FSSAI to label packaged food products with over 1% of GM Food

Feb 4, 2019

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to go ahead with labelling packaged food products with over one per cent of Genetically Modified ingredients, thereby defying the pro-GM crop groups. GM food lebelling will now be a part of GM food regulation itself. We have taken a view to reduce it to one per cent.

Labelling of GM food is required in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and China.

FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the scientific committee of the food regulator has green-signaled labelling of GM food items for manufacture, sale and distribution in India with a threshold value of one per cent.

If the maximum residue level (MRL) of GM ingredients reaches one per cent, food products will have to display a message on their packaging that they contain GM food and a notification in this regard will be issued following approval by the government.

Earlier, the threshold of five per cent was being considered. However, the scientific committee zeroed in on one per cent following consultations with all the stakeholders.

The FSSAI had come under severe criticism after environmental watchdog Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) reported in July last year that 21 of the randomly picked 65 food products, including that for newborns, from different retail outlets in the country were found GM positive in its lab tests.

“The decision on banning or limiting the use of antibiotics in food products would be notified in the next two to three months. FSSAI has petitioned by the industry that antibiotics in products generally come from primary sources such as through fodder or medical treatment. They also need time to set up lab test facilities,” said FSSAI chief.

He said some antibiotics would be allowed but their presence in food products should be below the prescribed MRL.

Agarwal also said, “The food regulator had taken a strict view of the food safety norms being flouted by restaurants that have tie-ups with e-commerce food service companies. These e-commerce companies have identified 10,400 such restaurants that failed to follow the safety norms. The list has been shared with the state governments. The state governments are in the process of closing them down or persuading them to follow norms to keep their licenses (active). New labs are coming up in some states with the support of the central government. The state food labs system is currently weak. Once these labs are operational, testing will be more robust. We are working with states to create posts and fill them up”.

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