The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been at the centre-stage of controversy ever since the discovery of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) higher than the prescribed limit in Nestle’s Maggi noodles in May this year. While it had ordered a recall of Maggi noodles, the body now seems to have been defanged. Based on a Supreme Court order of August 19 that questioned the procedure followed by it, FSSAI has decided to scrap product approvals. The body had introduced product approval advisory on May 11, 2013, to streamline the approval procedure with due consideration to the safety of food and public health. What it means is that companies can go ahead and launch products without waiting for an FSSAI green signal.
While the decision has been widely approved, there is no clarity on how approvals will happen for products that have already filed applications with FSSAI. For those that have not, this could make life easier to launch in the Indian market. Though the streamlining is good, there should however be means to ensure that in case any product being sold is later determined to be harmful, it should face heavy penalties, with the provision for class action suits against the manufacturer. It is also time for FSSAI to take a closer look at the facilities within its laboratories and raise them at par with global standards.