Food is an essential commodity as per The Essential commodities Act 1955. Everyone has to stay home to stay safe but not to starve without basic essential like food. At this time of crisis, the government has rescued the food business with the announcement of a few exemptions and relaxations to ease the operation of food business without any hiccups. The extension and relaxations are listed below in detail.
Commencing of food business operation temporarily with permission
Every person who intends to commence a food business shall before commencing the activity has to obtain valid license/Registration with appropriate state or central authority to run the business as per the provisions of FSS Act 2006. Accordingly, Food business operators will require to apply for FSSAI license/ Registration through online portal https;//foodlicensing.fssai.gov.in/index.aspxo along with the prescribed fee. The applicant will be issued with valid receipt having a 17-digit application reference number.
To ensure uninterrupted services/supply during the lockdown FSSAI has issued order file no 15(6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated 31/03/2020 which allows food business operators other than manufacturers to temporarily operate as per the FSS Act 2006, and rules and regulations with permission. The FBOs need to inform the authority by providing a scanned image of the declaration of Form M with the signature of the proprietor/Director/Partner and furnish a valid receipt of application reference number through e-mail.
The permission issued by Commissioners of Food safety is valid till lockdown period. The FBOs shall cease his operation related to food at the said premises within 30 days after the lockdown period unless a valid FSSAI license/ Registration as applicable is obtained. In the case of State/UT specific lockdown, this permission shall be limited to the respective state/UT only.
E-inspection for processing applications for FSSAI License/Registration
As per the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food businesses) Regulation, 2011 the licensing authority may direct the food safety officer to do a physical inspection of the premises upon receipt of the application for license/registration in accordance with FSSAI regulations and issue the license accordingly.
In view of the present lockdown, it is not possible to do a physical inspection of the food units by authorities hence it has considered e-inspections, which avoids undue delay in sanctioning licenses. In certain cases, particularly of high-risk food categories, it is decided to have a pre-license inspection. Prior to issuing the Licensing/ Registration certificate the authority may conduct e-inspection of FBOs premise/unit by recording the observations of videos and images submitted by the concerned FBO. After the restoration of the normalcy authority to inspect the premise/unit for which license/Registration certificate granted. This order remains effective for the lockdown period only.
Extension of validity period for License/Registration which is due for Renewal
As per food safety and standards (Licencing and registration of food businesses) Regulations 2011 no person shall commence or carry on any food business except under a valid license or registration.
The license and registration issued shall be valid up to one to five years period as chosen by the Food business operator from the date of issue of license or registration. FBOs who intend to continue their business shall apply for renewal before the validity expires
Food Safety Standards Authority of India has issued an order No.15 (6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated 13th April 2020, the order provides grace period till 30th June 2020 for applying for renewal of license /registration expired/expiring during the period from 22nd March to 31st May 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic. FBOs whose license expiring in the mentioned period can apply for renewal of their license/registration till 30th June 2020 without any late fee.
For Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Licence/Registration expiring during the period of 1st August to 31st May 2020 are given a grace period to apply for renewal till 30th June 2020. In the interim period, the FSSAI license/Registration shall be deemed to be valid.
Extension of provisional NOC for import of crude oil (edible grade) and food grains
FBOs who intend to import crude oil (edible oils) shall obtain NOC by submitting the application online along with supporting documents and fees for laboratory testing on per sample basis. The FBOs should facilitate in the physical inspection of the consignment and drawing samples. The authorised officer verify the physical condition of consignment visibly ensure compliance as per FSS (packaging and labelling) regulations 2011 and the product-specific labelling requirements. The drawn samples are subjected for testing in the authorised laboratory and the report received should be in compliance with FSSAI regulations and then FSSAI officer will issue NOC. The food product would then be cleared for import and released from the customs warehouse. The NOC is issued for the relevant cargo,
FSSAI with order File no.1-1771/FSSAI/Imports/2018 dated 16th April 2020 has extended the validity of the provisions of provisional NOC (P-NOC) to other imported food products in view of the lockdown. For the consignments of imported crude oils (edible oil) and food grains, the importer shall submit declaration in the prescribed form to the concerned authority. On visual observation, the authority shall issue the provisional no-objection certificate (P-NOC) without waiting for the analysis report from the laboratory. On receipt of the analysis report, the authority shall issue final no objection certificate if the product conforms to the FSSAI standards. The directions are valid till 30/05/2020 or till further orders in this regard, whichever is earlier.
Extension of period to submit the Annual and Half-yearly returns
All licensed Food Business Operators (FBOs) involved in manufacturing/processing including Re labellers/Re packers and importers are required to submit an annual return of their food business in Form D-1 for every preceding year by 31st May and FBOs involved in manufacturing/processing of milk and milk products are required to submit the half-yearly return in the Form D2 within one month of the end of the preceding half-year to the concerned licensing Authority.
Considering the difficulties faced by FBOs as because of the lockdown the time line for submission of Annual/Half-yearly reports has been extended for the submission of annual return for FY 2019-2020 and half-yearly return of October 2019 –March 2020, till 31st July.
The reports can be sent in the prescribed format through email/Physical copies to concerned authorities.
The food authority has extensively exercised his power as per sec 16(5) of The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and issued the above extension of the validity period and the relaxations for ease of doing the food business at this time of crisis hour. This would enable to provide the essential services for the people and to mitigate the risk of a shortage of food supplies. All the above relaxations are extended until the lockdown period and subsequent to that the FBOs has to strictly adhere to the respective regulations as applicable.
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