Food ingredients to be brought under strict laws

Written by Commodities Bureau | Mumbai, Oct 7 | Updated: Oct 8 2008, 07:54am hrs
Food ingredients are required to be dealt with by strict laws, said Joseph Lewis, head, research and development, Marico Ltd.

The Parliament has passed the Food Safety and Standard Bill recently and the bill will have a liberating effect on the Indian dietary supplement industry similar to that of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) for the industry in the US. It is currently pending with the Presidents office. The Food Regulation Act is in a stage of consultation between industry, government agencies and other agencies before it is made operational, Lewis said at the FI India 2008 event held in Mumbai.

The Act should be framed to support minimum effective legislation and not restrict competition, but at the same time be innovative and reduce regulatory burden, he said. I hope the new Food Safety and Standard Act (FSSA) will address a number of issues related to quality and safety of the entire food chain. We need to move away from obsolete legislation like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, a leading food processor said.

The future of the domestic food-processing industry is very bright in the country provided Indian food processing companies get the best infrastructure facilities and a good regulatory environment. The government should also provide a level playing field to all stakeholders, another participant of FI India 2008 event, who did not wish to be named, said.

Samant, vice-president, technical, Cadbury India Ltd, said that there was a need to educate consumers about the benefits of ingredients over taste. However, food products should still remain food and not turn into medicines, as overdoing health claims can put off the consumers.

Traceability of food products is the demand of the day. Global needs and international trade, along with domestic business, demand traceability, Shashi Sareen, head, quality, Aditya Birla Retail, said. Traceability is a tool to assist food safety problems and improve reliability of information. The traceability mechanism should be applicable to all specific stages of the food chain, rather than focusing on the entire chain, she said.