The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will likely issue provisional ‘No Objection Certificates’ (NOCs) to food manufacturers for product launches after the Supreme Court quashed its product approval advisory issued last week.
This system will remain in place till the regulation can be amended in tune with the apex court’s ruling on August 19.
Industry stakeholders had sought clarity over what would follow after the advisory was made invalid for approvals that had been rejected by or were pending with the food regulator, FSSAI.
Sources said FSSAI officials, including Chairman Ashish Bahuguna, indicated the possible solution to prevent manufacturers from being stuck in a limbo at a meeting with industry officials on Saturday.
The meeting was held under the aegis of industry chamber Assocham.
“One of the core issues in front of the industry after the SC order is how we proceed with product launches. It seems the food regulator could look at giving a provisional NOC to help companies launch products till there is an amendment,” said a senior official present at the meeting.
A presentation made by the industry highlighted the need for risk assessment and mitigation processes to be instituted by FSSAI prior to subsequent decisions and regulations.
A “suitable redressal mechanism” was also requested at the Central and State levels.
Core group Importantly, the presentation suggested that the label of ‘proprietary food’ be removed till specific standards are established and that a procedure was required to approve ingredients and additives cleared by food agencies abroad but not by FSSAI.
“FSSAI officials said that industry should form a core group to give their suggestions regarding problems they are facing with regulations. We urged the regulator to develop a communication channel and meet with manufacturers every quarter in the light of recent issues,” he added.
The “issues” referred include testing standards, labelling norms and product approvals, which have become commonplace in the aftermath of Nestle’s Maggi Noodles controversy.