Food Safety Regulatory Compliance in India: A Challenge to Enhance Agri-businesses

The present paper is an attempt to understand the level of food safety regulations in food businesses and its compliance in India to assess the prospects of food businesses under the surveillance of India’s new Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The study finds that in the second quarter of 2006, the country had witnessed a new initiative of enactment of the latest Act, ‘the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (No. 34 of 2006), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that integrates the existing eight of the food laws. It brings about one statute under a single apex regulatory authority known as Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The study also highlights that food safety law is poorly implemented in the country specially in case of marketing of fruits and vegetables. The availability of modern infrastructure like scientific ripening chambers for fruits and vegetables has not been provided by the local Government even in modern markets. The lack of scientific ripening chambers to meet international safety standards in the modern market clearly indicates that even in the modern markets of India food safety issues appears to be neglected. It is suggested that there is a strong need to have (i) Special budget for building soft and hard infrastructure; (ii) Attract more Private-Public-People partnership to undertake awareness programmes, sensitisation and capacity building on risk communication in both perishables and non-perishables food items; (iii) Set up accredited network of laboratories with skilled manpower to conduct scientific testing for the primary perishable agricultural commodities; (iv) APMCs to ensure a premium payment for better quality graded produce to the farmers as an incentive to follow and innovate more of the food safety norms, while providing modern infrastructural facilities to both traders and farmers; and (v) Explore innovative models of management, for instance, the state government may consider pilot project to lease out the regulated market to private agri-businesses. The regulatory authorities in turn assume an advisory and regulatory role to make sure that safety norms in that market are as per the law and provide supporting infrastructure. Build Consumers’ Trust by (vi) Gradually introducing city-based scheme to restrict sale of lose food items; (vii) Sensitize public about food-safety risks and possible way out for prevention by involvement of consumer organisations; (viii) Mandatory record keeping by implementation authorities for monitoring, effectiveness of law enforcement and food surveillance activities; and (ix) Encourage prescriptive based sale of controlled chemicals at registered places; (x) Set-up an exclusive committee to frame a set of good and hygienic practices for all activities undertaken in market of fruits and vegetables; (xi) Train and educate farmers on personal hygiene along with safe application of pesticides and efficient spray technology as an attempt to prevent contamination in fields; (xii) Integrate small farm owners and traders in India into food safety and quality networks by establishing more number of supermarkets that may help both managing traceability issue; and (xiii) Generating awareness through learning-by-doing process. The suggestions offered above, if implemented, would lead to fostering agri-business both in the domestic and international markets.

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Journal Article
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Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 68, 3
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JEL Codes:
Q13; Q17; O19

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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