New Delhi: Only one out of every 15 food businesses in the country is registered with the food safety watchdog FSSAI despite several extensions of the deadline for obtaining licences, a top official said Wednesday.
Stating that the whole issue of food safety is becoming increasingly important, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal said the regulator is framing new regulations for more products that would be in place within the next few months.
"In terms of licenses and registrations of food businesses, we still have a very-very long way to go. Only 33 lakh are registered, I am told there are close to 5 crore food businesses in the country. You can see that it has not even reached 10 percent the mark," Agarwal said at a Assocham event.
Food business operators cannot operate without obtaining licence from FSSAI. The licensing process was started in August 2011 and thereafter it has been extended many times.
As per the Food Safety Standards act, food business operator is defined as an undertaking, whether private or public, carrying out activities related to any stage of manufacturing, processing, packaging, storage, transportation, distribution of food, imports.
Yesterday in a notification, the food safety regulator extended the last date of registration from February 4, 2016 to May 4, 2016.
He pointed out that the last date has repeatedly been extended and after consultations it is decided that "we should go for three-month extension instead of 6 months or one year".
The official said the regulator wants to work with the industry hopes for industry's cooperation in regulating the sector.
"There will be special drives for food businesses to obtain licences and registration within 3 months. I do hope that food businesses will cooperate with us in obtaining licences," he said.
Agarwal also clarified that the last date for printing of licences and registration numbers on the packaged food was over on December 31.
"We do hope that all packaged food will have FSSAI licence number. There will be no further extension and I think we have extended it for many times," he added.
He also raised that FSSAI licence is not displayed on the premises of many food businesses.
So in all these three areas, special drive would be taken by the regulatory authority through state machinery.