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Time for Fssai to wake up and enforce regulations: In a pickle

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In Short:

The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 defines unsafe food as injurious to health. The regulators in India have achieved high conviction rates in cases of errant businesses, but consumers are left uninformed about substandard food products. There is a lack of product recall and license cancellations. The issue of unsafe food is complex and affects public health, calling for more proactive regulatory measures to protect consumers.

Ensuring Food Safety in India: A Human Perspective

In a country of 1.4 billion people, **Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006** defines unsafe food as those that can harm health. The responsibility of ensuring safe and wholesome food for all Indians lies with the federal regulator, **Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)**, and state food safety agencies. These agencies have a commendable conviction rate of over 60% in cases of food safety violations.

Consumer Ignorance

However, a concerning issue is the lack of consumer awareness. Despite taking legal actions against errant businesses, the authorities fail to inform citizens about which brands or manufacturers are selling substandard and unsafe food items. This leaves consumers in the dark and unable to avoid potentially harmful products.

The annual report of **FSSAI** for 2021-22 revealed a lack of product recalls or food license cancellations, practices commonly used globally to protect consumers. This raises questions about the effectiveness of the current system in India.

Nestle’s Maggi Recall Saga

In a notable incident, back in 2015, **Nestle** was asked to recall its popular instant noodles, Maggi, due to excessive lead and monosodium glutamate content. Despite the recall order, subsequent tests deemed the product safe, and **Nestle** resumed its sale after clearing regulatory hurdles.

When questioned about the lack of consumer alerts, an **FSSAI** official recognized the need for better transparency in naming and shaming food manufacturers who sell unsafe products.

Global Concerns and India’s Stand

Recent reports have highlighted concerns about the quality of food products in India. Brands like **Nestle** and **MDH** have faced scrutiny for alleged violations. The issue of ethylene oxide content in products has also raised red flags.

Various international agencies have detected non-compliance in Indian food exports, necessitating a more robust regulatory framework within the country.

Need for Better Regulation

Experts emphasize the urgency for improved regulations in the food industry, especially in labeling and marketing of high-fat, sugar, and salt products. Suggestions for front-of-the-pack labels to inform consumers are under consideration by **FSSAI**.

The growing market for processed foods in India necessitates a proactive approach in safeguarding consumer health and well-being.

Consumer Advocacy

Consumer rights advocates stress the need for stricter enforcement of food safety rules and better resource allocation to tackle adulteration and malpractices in the food industry.

A Personal Outlook

Amidst regulatory debates and industry challenges, individuals like Sangeetha Deiveegarajan from Chennai take a proactive approach to ensure safe food consumption for their families. Their efforts reflect a growing concern for food safety in the country.

In a world where food plays a vital role in our daily lives, ensuring its safety and quality should be a shared responsibility among regulators, manufacturers, and consumers alike.

For any queries or feedback, contact [email protected]

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