The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is strengthening the food safety surveillance system and to do this it has envisaged audit of food business operators through third-party private agencies..
FSSAI said that the audit through “recognised” agencies in addition to existing enforcement and inspection procedure is critical to ensuring safety aspect of an extensive network of food businesses in India, an official release said.
FSSAI has already notified the Food Safety and Standards (Food Safety Auditing) Regulation 2018.
FSSAI believes that this regulation will reinforce the food safety surveillance system in the country by encouraging self-compliance. It authorizes the FSSAI to recognise an organisation or an agency for carrying out food safety audit and checking compliance with the food safety management systems.
FSSAI has temporarily recognised 22 audit agencies, including international agencies like DNV, Bureau Veritas, Intertek, MS Certification, IRCLASS, SGS, BIS, TUV, and Indocert. This is done as the third-party agencies will work in close coordination with the government’s food safety apparatus.
These agencies will also be used to rate catering establishments under FSSAI’s Hygiene Rating Scheme and Responsible Place to Eat schemes under Project ‘Serve Safe’ and they can also be used by FSSAI for audits on central institutions/Ministries like the railways and defence.
Based on their audit reports, the frequency of inspections by regulatory officials will be decreased or increased, as the case may be. Satisfactory audits will lead to less frequent regulatory inspections, except regulatory sampling by central or state licensing authorities.