FSSAI calls for suggestions and comments on the draft Food Safety and Standards Organic Foods Regulations 2017

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Food Safety and Standards

Through a notification, FSSAI issued a draft on Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 and has invited suggestions, views and comments from stakeholders on the draft regulations on organic foods.Organic foods are products derived from agricultural produce where there is no use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic hormones or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

In CHAPTER I the following terms have been defined

”Standards for Organic Production” are the standards recognised by the

  • Food Authority
  • National Standards for Organic Production
  • Participatory Guarantee System for India to be followed in cultivation or harvest or production or storage or processing or trading of organic food products and Inputs.

The “National Programme for Organic Production” is a programme of the Government of India which ensures implementation of the National Standards for Organic Production with a third-party certification control system as notified by the Director General of Foreign Trade under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act,1992.

“Participatory Guarantee System for India” is a quality assurance initiative for organic production operated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare outside the framework of third party certification which emphasizes the participation of producers, consumers and other stakeholders.

The draft regulation states that an agency recognised by the FSSAI or by the National Programme for Organic Production will be considered the ‘Accreditation Body’. On the other hand “Accredited Certification Body” means an organization that has been accredited by an Accreditation Body for certification of organic products. The Accredited Certification Body also has the authority to grant FBOs the right to use the certification mark.

CHAPTER II deals with Organic Food Labelling and Certification

The draft regulation states that no person shall manufacture, pack, sell, offer for sale, market or otherwise distribute or import any organic foods unless they comply with the requirements laid down under these regulations.

Any food that is offered or promoted for sale as ‘organic food,’ must comply with the provisions, as applicable, of one of these organisations

  • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP);
  • Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India);
  • Any other system or standards as may be notified by the Food Authority from time to time.

However, organic food that is marketed directly by the original producer/producer organization, to the end consumer, is exempt from the need of verification of compliance. This exemption does not apply to processed organic food products.

Labelling

All organic food labels need to carry

  • Full and accurate information on the organic status of the products
  • Certification/quality assurance mark of either the NPOP or PGS-India or any other standards recognised by FSSAI
  • FSSAI logo
  • Must also comply with the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011

Traceability of all organic foods needs to be established upto the producer level as provided in NPOP or PGS-India or any other standards recognised by FSSAI. It shall also include any other requirements prescribed by the Food Authority to maintain the organic integrity of the food product.

Other compliances

Besides the provision of these regulations all organic food must also be in compliance with the applicable provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011, under the Act and the rules and regulations made thereunder.

Display in shops

Any seller or retailer of organic food either exclusively or as part of their retail merchandise needs to ensure that the display of organic food is such that it can be distinguished from the display of conventional food so that it is easy for consumers to recognise them clearly and are not misled.

Non- compliance of any organic food with the provisions of these regulations shall attract penal provisions under the Act, and be liable for action as a false, misleading or deceptive claim.

CHAPTER III deals with Imports and Reciprocity

Organic food imported under bilateral or multilateral agreements will not be required to be re-certified on their import to India subject to their

  • compliance with the provision of the Act & the Rules & Regulation made thereunder
  • And if exporting countries have standards equivalent to standards of the National Programme for Organic Production

All organic food consignments imported according to the above mentioned must be accompanied by a transaction certificate issued by an Accredited Certification Body covered under the terms of the equivalence agreement.

CHAPTER IV has a general statement which says that

The Food Authority may establish appropriate institutional mechanism to implement these regulations and promote authentic organic food in the country.

This article contains just a summary of the regulation for easy understanding.