Food safety regulator FSSAI on August 6 extended the deadline for food companies to get a licence to run their businesses by another six months, to February 4, 2016.

This is the sixth time that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has extended the deadline. The last date to get the licence lapsed on August 4. “The Central Government has directed the FSSAI to extend the timeline mentioned in the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations, 2011, for a further period of six months up to February 4 2016,” FSSAI said in its order.

The decision has been taken after the Union Health Ministry considered representations from various stakeholders, including food companies and industry associations. The industry has been demanding an extension of one year.

Section 31 (1) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, provides that no person shall commence or carry on any food business except under a licence, the order added.

As per the Food Safety and Standards regulations of 2011, no person or food business operator can commence any food business unless he or the operator possesses a valid licence.

There are about 5.5 crore food business operators in the country.

Welcoming the move, All India Food Processors’ Association Executive Secretary DV Malhan said: “It is a good move as it will give more time to the companies to register themselves with the food safety regulator.”