In order to strengthen the food safety surveillance system, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has envisaged audit of food business operators through third-party private agencies, the regulator said on Tuesday.
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 expects that this regulation will strengthen the food safety surveillance system in the country by encouraging self-compliance. (It) empowers the FSSAI to recognise an organisation or an agency for carrying out food safety audit and checking compliance with the food safety management systems," the release added.
FSSAI has provisionally recognised 22 audit agencies, including international agencies like DNV, Bureau Veritas, Intertek, MS Certification, IRCLASS, SGS, BIS, TUV, Indocert.
"These third-party agencies will work in close coordination with the government’s food safety apparatus," it said.
"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."
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’, it said.
These agencies can also be used by FSSAI for audits on central institutions/Ministries like the railways and defence.->