Food handlers in India to have annual medical fitness tests under a new order passed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to ensure that such tradesmen are free from any infectious, or other diseases. On clearing the medical fitness test with a certified medical practitioner, the food handler gets a medical fitness certificate from the practitioner, as well as the local representative of the FSSAI.
FSSAI is the apex authority that regulates the manufacture, sale, storage, distribution, and import of food products. For any food business operator, it is necessary to obtain FSSAI registration and license to start a business in the food industry. There are some guidelines outlined in the FSSAI Act 2006 for food safety and personal hygiene for food business operators.
Anyone starting a new food business or taking over an existing food business is required to register their food business under the FSSAI. License is necessary to all businesses that store, sell, distribute or prepare food or drink. Once you submit a signed food business registration form you can start the business.
The Quality Assurance/Lab Division of FSSAI is one of the most important divisions of this department. As the name would suggest, it is tasked with the actual testing of food products and other related details, for the purpose of acquiring the necessary data on the same. The data used by this department is then used by other departments for enforcing existing rules, making changes to the law, disseminating information, creating guidelines for various governmental bodies, etc. The labs used by the FSSAI can either be the ones owned by the department itself, or those of a registered third party, based on the existing demands and needs.
The HR division of the FSSAI doesn’t involve itself in the actual food safety regulation process. On the contrary, its role is to regulate the staffing and human resources oversight tasks of the FSSAI. From the hiring of individuals to the payment of salaries, all of these functions come under the purview of the HR Division.
The Standards Division of the FSSAI is tasked with the role of ensuring the creation and maintenance of suitable standards. This is important because the maintenance of food safety requires all food products as well as related ingredients, to have standards for comparison. It is with the comparison of the food to these products, that adequate food safety mechanisms can be created and enforced by the government. Simply put, the standards set by the FSSAI are to a large extent influenced by the work in the Standards division of the FSSAI. This is because other departments also have a role, such as those of the lab department or the one handling the formulation of the actual legal framework. This department is to a very large extent tasked with the creation of suitable reference benchmarks for food safety and quality standards.
The research functions of the FSSAI include the various research work necessary to ensure a robust regulatory mechanism for food quality and overall safety. There is a constant need for the creation of standards, in order to ensure adaptability to changing situations. This is where the research of the FSSAI comes in. There is several research functions carried out by the FSSAI, the most important of which are given below:
1. Evaluation of existing research mechanisms is one of the most important. Since changes in current technology, as well as a general understanding, can influence existing research methodologies and data, there is a need to constantly evaluate existing research methods that are used by the department. The FSSAI constantly works to ensure that current research methodologies and tools are in accordance with the latest scientific knowledge.

2. The second important research function carried out by the FSSAI is with regard to the creation of new standards of evaluation, rather than the up gradation of existing ones. This is applicable in case a way of testing food was discovered, with was until now unknown to the scientific establishment. Should such a discovery be made, the FSSAI works to have the same implemented in accordance with existing requirements and regulatory framework.
Quality assurance is one of the end-line functions of the FSSAI. Given that food safety is critical to ensure food health, the FSSAI works to ensure that any and all food consumed in the country is in accordance with safety standards. This responsibility that it is tasked with, is in a way a great burden on the larger department, as the entire country’s health will in effect, be on its shoulders. This is where quality assurance comes into the picture. The department strives to ensure quality food products at multiple levels, which are given below:

1. Ingredients – This has to do with the usage of quality and clean ingredients.

2. Food Manufacturing – The manufacturing process comprises of several steps, meaning that food can pass through multiple lines of preparation, before it is finally ‘prepared’. The FSSAI ensures that the entire food manufacturing process is well maintained, with regard to cleanliness, existing safety standards, etc.

3. Packaging – Once a food product is prepared, the next step involves its packaging. This is especially true for products that are sold in shops or supermarkets. The packaging process is also subjected to the oversight of the FSSAI, to ensure that the entire process is in accordance with existing food safety regulations.

4. Storage – This is the last part of the supply chain, where the food is stored in warehouses or other such places, before being delivered to the market for consumption. The FSSAI is responsible for ensuring that warehouses and other storage terminals are well maintained in accordance with current rules and regulations.

5. Import Functions – Not all food is made within the country. A lot of the food is imported from other countries, which makes it necessary to have a governmental oversight on them. This process of regulatory oversight on imported food is also carried out by the FSSAI.

The quality assurance with regard to labs is done through a process of accreditation, where labs are certified as being in accordance with FSSAI standards. There are currently three major standards in existence:

1. FSSAI notified NABL accredited labs- 112
2. State Labs-72
3. Referral Labs-14
Yes. The FSSAI creates numerous standards for food products. The creation of these standards is one of the prime functions of the department, in addition to the oversight of existing standards There are several different standards that are set for products. The scope of the FSSAI with regard to product standards extends from the level of ingredients to that of storage.
All business that is into some part of the food supply chain is required to have a valid FSSAI-issued license. In other words, yes. An FSSAI license is required for all businesses that are into food and food products. It is a mandatory requirement for all businesses in the country that are engaged in the manufacture of food and food products, to acquire an FSSAI certificate. The FSSAI certificate can be acquired from the website of the FSSAI department.
Food retailers or food business operators are the main recipients of FSSAI registration. To get an FSSAI license they have to submit an FSSAI license document. The relevant documents required for FSSAI license are as follows:

1. Photo ID of Food Business Operator.

2. Identification proofs like Ration Card, Department-issued ID, PAN Card, Passport, Senior Citizen Card, Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card

3. Supporting documents like No Objection Certificate by Municipal / Panchayat, Health NOC.
The FSSAI is responsible for the safety of public health across the country. This need of FSSAI regulations makes it important for its employees to adhere to the highest standards of responsibility. The penalty for the failure to carry out the responsibilities ranges to a fine of up to one lakh rupees if found guilty under section 39 of the act. In addition to this, another thing that should be added is that when the complaint is made against the Food Safety Officer, the complainant will be punished with a fine that is not less than fifty thousand and may extend to one lakh rupees.
The term GM or Genetically Modified, is a reference to the fact that its genetics were modified, using various biotechnological advances in science. In the case of food, it can mean that one or several of the ingredients used for the same, were of GM origin. The FSSAI currently has no specific guidelines on the regulation of GM food or food products in the country. This is because the regulation of the same doesn’t come under the regulatory purview of the department. With regard to organic foods, the department has not set any specific standards. The term organic is currently applied to the various ingredients that have been produced based on specific standards. Organic foods are currently not regulated by the FSSAI. These two are a lacking need in the FSSAI, which will probably be addressed soon.
There are currently no microbiological guidelines currently in place in India. Therefore, these concerns do not apply to the FSSAI. At the same time, however, FSSAI does provide guidelines for microbiological standards, with regard to food safety.
The country has a vast network of laboratories catering to different needs, which includes even food safety. Coming to the subject of food safety, the country has several laboratories, which have the necessary infrastructure to assess the quality of food, ranging from those of the government to private laboratories under the regulatory oversight of government bodies, among which is the FSSAI. Details of the laboratories accredited by the FSSAI have been mentioned in another question mentioned above, as well as on the main FSSAI online portal.
The FSSAI maintains its own laboratories for the purpose of food safety testing and quality compliance across the country. In addition to this, the department may take the help of other labs where it may deem fit. There are currently several different laboratories in the country that have been given the accreditation of the FSSAI, with regard to food standards, safety and the resulting guidelines for suitable food licenses. The labs that are used by the FSSAI and form a part of the network, are given various accredited licenses, the details of which have been mentioned in another FAQ given above.
Consumers benefit from the FSSAI in a number of ways. Some of the ways in which the FSSAI is beneficial to consumers are given below:
1. The availability of quality food and food products.

2. Better standards of health.

3. Reliable information on general food safety and proper hygiene.

4. A regulatory framework for individuals who would like to enter into the food business through the provision of a suitable food license.

5. There is a provision for consumers who have been negatively affected due to the consumption of low quality or tainted food, to receive appropriate compensation.
TFSSAI license can be obtained for a period of 1 year to 5 years. While applying for an FSSAI license, one may decide for how long one wishes to obtain the FSSAI License. The fees for the FSSAI License shall also vary as per the number of years chosen for FSSAI registration. All Food business operators must start their food business only after obtaining a valid FSSAI license. It is necessary to renew the FSSAI license before expiration to continue the business. Penalties will be imposed if you forget FSSAI registration renewal, so it is always recommended to keep a check on the FSSAI license expiry date.