The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006. This Act not only replaces the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 but also consolidates the other food acts like the Fruits Product Order (FPO), Meat Food Products Order, Vegetable Oil products (control) Order, the Milk and Milk Products order. These Acts, earlier handled by different ministries, will now fall in the ambit of the FSSAI. The authority is a statutory body with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare being the administrative head.
The authority was set up in 2008, two years after the Act was passed in the parliament. Its been three years and the Act is yet to be fully operationalized. In the last five years, the food regulations in our country have been running on parallel tracks. The Authority has been in a state of flux for a long time and has failed to take decisions on important issues like GM labeling, trans fat, antibiotics in honey and energy drinks. The Authority has faltered in the past in forming scientific panels, by including members from industries despite their conflict of interest and violating their own laws. The FSSAI has admitted that they do not have basic facilities in laboratories across the country to test samples and take action against defaulters, they are low on manpower and are functioning on a shoe-string budget.
If the Authority is not in shape and the Act not in place it is for anyone's imagination what could have been the state of food safety and standards in India. The Authority promises to make the act fully functional by August 5,2011 and this site will keep a close tab on whether the Authority will walk its talk.