Skip to main content

GoI food regulator's order to adversely tell on small, medium enterprises: FSSAI chief told

Counterview Desk 

In a letter to the Chairperson and the chief executive, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a Government of India (GoI) regulator, as many as 150 activists, experts and concerned citizens have objected to the FSSAI order mandating all food business operators (FBO) which are manufacturers, re-packers and re-labellers, to get all food products to be tested and the lab reports uploaded onto a portal.
The letter says, the scientific basis of the is “unclear”, apprehending, FSSAI's regulation would “end up pushing small operators out of business”, as the whole exercise is “cost-prohibitive and onerous.” The order requires 6-monthly lab testing reports of all foods and uploading of the same.


Greetings! We are a group of civil society members who are working on sustainable and safe food systems, working with consumers as well as producers, including with farmers in shifting them towards an agro-ecological paradigm of production.
We write to you to express our serious concerns with regard to an Order dated 13th January 2023, of the Regulatory Compliance Division (File No. 15(31)2020/FoSCoS/RCD/FSSAIpt-I-Part (1)). Through this Order, the FSSAI is mandating compulsory testing for all products endorsed on a FSSAI license, every six months in a financial year, and uploading of the same through FoSCoS. Reference is being cited as Conditions of License Number 12 (Annexure 3) of Schedule 2 of Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations 2011. Annexure-3 incidentally is “conditions of license”.
On behalf of small manufacturers, re-packers and re-labellers, we have the following points to state:
  1. India’s food safety regulatory regime runs on the premise that small FBOs with an annual turnover of less than 12 lakh rupees are likely to cause lesser risk in any eventuality and therefore, requires them to only register with the regulator, whereas businesses above 12 lakhs’ turnover are required to obtain licenses to operate. Small operators are also defined in terms of production capacity with a ceiling of 100 liters or kilos per day, of food products. For licenses, once again, a state or central license comes into play, depending on another turnover band - 12 lakhs to 20 crores of annual turnover requires a state license and above that, a central license. Medium and Large enterprises with licenses have to necessarily print their FSSAI license number on the food products’ packaging. While Annexure-3 of Schedule 2 regarding registration and licensing is pertaining to “Conditions of License”, this January 2023 Order is appearing to cover all operators. Further, Annexure-3 cannot be applied to “registered FBOs” because the very rationale for this regulatory regime will be lost.
  2. The same rationale as above should logically be maintained when it comes to those FBOs which are manufacturers (Section 3 (1)(zd) of the Act), repackers and relabellers of foods and the above Order (of 13th January 2023) cannot be uniformly applied to all FBOs who are manufacturers, repackers and re-labellers.
  3. Importantly, the entire regulatory regime in its statutory schema, is supposed to ensure food safety by way of the registration and licensing mechanisms, by the laying down of standards and by ensuring compliance to the same by the Food Safety Officer drawing samples and sending it to the Food Analyst for analysis (Section 38). In addition, the Indian statute also has provisions for the purchaser to get food analysed (Section 40) and get a refund of the fees paid to the Food Analyst if contraventions are found. When the regulatory apparatus has both these mechanisms apart from routine entry and inspection processes where Food Safety Officers and Food Analysts are already at work, why is the responsibility of food testing being thrust upon manufacturers themselves? What about the conflict of interest involved in this process? More importantly, what about the costs involved and who will reimburse the FBOs and how - for each product, it will cost in the range of Rs. 5000/- to Rs. 19500/-, and therefore, at least Rs. 10,000/- for annual testing of the product two times a year and many businesses deal with at least 15-20 products (for products like honey, it will cost at least Rs. 30,000/- per test and for heavy metals testing, private labs are charging Rs. 13000/- or so per product)? Additionally, does India have the lab testing facilities for lakhs and lakhs of samples to be continuously tested for all the parameters that FSSAI is laying down? The burden on even a licensed FBO who is a manufacturer with an annual turnover of, let us say, 15 lakh rupees can be easily understood. Worse, a penalty of Rs.100 per day is being threatened if reports are uploaded beyond the stated deadline.
  4. What is the scientific basis of risk management behind getting all products tested on a six-monthly basis, irrespective of the scale of market or shelf life or other considerations?
All in all, this Order from FSSAI seems to have many adverse economic implications for the livelihoods of small as well as medium enterprises of food manufacturing, apart from creating an extremely onerous online mechanism and these will work against many FBOs. It is also without any scientific basis and a circumventing of the mandate of FSSAI apparatus itself.
This is just a way of killing most FBOs in the country, paving the way for big brand food industry to take over. FSSAI’s regulations in any case favor such brands and not small FBOs, as was seen in the past too. We collectively urge you to please withdraw the said Order immediately and rely on FSSAI’s inspection, sampling and testing mechanisms for ensuring food safety.
Click here for signatories



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.