Come February 4, the Food and Drug Administration will crack the whip on all those food business operators, including roadside vendors and hawkers, who have not registered with the regulatory authority under the central government’s Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA).
The move comes two years after the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India made it mandatory for all food business operators (FBOs) to obtain a licence or register with the state FDA. Under the FSSA, any person or establishment, where food is being handled, processed, manufactured, stored and distributed should conform to basic sanitary and hygienic requirement.
So far, FDA in Maharashtra has registered or licensed 5,73,840 FBOs of which 63,654 operators are in Mumbai alone. There are an estimated 15 lakh FBOs in the state, while Mumbai has over one lakh food business set-ups. These range from top-end restaurants to roadside vendors as also manufacturers of packaged food product or raw material, including dealers of milk, dairy products, meat and oil.
State FDA Commissioner Mahesh Zagade told dna, “February 4 is the last date set by the central government to obtain licences or registration by the FBOs, failing which they will be prosecuted under the law.”
Zagade said that Maharashtra has registered the maximum number of FBOs as compared to any other state in India. “Across India, there are 5.5 crore FBOs of which 18 lakh have registered under FSSA till date. Of these 18 lakh, over five lakh FBOs have registered from Maharashtra alone. With nearly 30 per cent registrations done from Maharashtra alone, we are leading in enforcing the law.”
In the past 20 days, food safety officers have been conducting camps to persuade FBOs to obtain FDA licences or get registered with the regulatory body. “On average, we are conducting forty to fifty camps in a day in the city with an aim to reach out to vendors in concentrated areas of vegetable and fish markets as well as hawkers to make them aware of the importance of maintaining hygiene and sanitation while handling raw or cooked food items,” said Suresh Annapure, joint commissioner (food), FDA.