Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has set up an expert panel to review the existing standards.
Food regulator FSSAI is collecting samples of milk and honey sold in the market to check quality of these two food items after it received consumer complaints, its CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal said on Tuesday.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has set up an expert panel to review the existing standards to simplify and streamline the quality norms, he said at a CII's Food Safety and Quality summit.
"Surveillance is a big area. We are taking up surveillance in few commodities. As we speak, the surveillance on honey and milk is going on," Mr Agarwal said, adding that it would be done in more products, going forward.
"We have been receiving complaints in milk and honey. So, we are collecting samples of these two commodities," he said on the sidelines.
Earlier addressing the event, Mr Agarwal said FSSAI has accelerated the pace of standard settings in the country.
"Substantive work has been done and some of the work that remains to be done is in advance stages. We should probably have most of the standards that are perhaps needed to ensure safe food in the next few months," Mr Agarwal said.
The regulator has recently set standards for fortification of six food items as well as for nutraceuticals and health supplements.
He said the panel comprising various stakeholders to review the present standards will submit its suggestions and the same will be considered by the scientific committee.
According to Mr Agarwal, FSSAI has done reasonable work in setting standards for food products in the last five years of operations, but he expressed concern about the enforcement of food quality standards.
He emphasised on the need to have standard operating processes for regulatory authorities of the country, saying the absence of these processes provides discretionary power to food inspectors and enforcement agencies.
FSSAI has set up a technical panel to prepare these standard operating processes that could be used by enforcement agencies, industry and third-party auditors.
The authority is in the process of setting up regulations for third-party audit and the same will be made mandatory for high-risk food categories, Mr Agarwal said.
To strengthen the food regulatory ecosystem, he said the government has recently approved an investment of about Rs 500 crore to upgrade food testing labs in various states.
FSSAI, which came into limelight during the Maggi controversy, is also preparing regulations for product recall, he said, adding that a lot of work needs to be done on compliance and conformity assessment for ensuring food safety.
Codex Alimentarius Commission Chairperson Awilo Ocheing Pernet suggested that protection of consumers' health by ensuring food safety should be a priority for every country.
Terming food safety as an issue of "great concern", she said 4,20,000 people die worldwide due to food-borne diseases. "Food-borne diseases are preventable. To ensure food safety, all stakeholders must play their role efficiently," Ms Pernet said.