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After Maggi fiasco, all packaged foods to be checked: FSSAI

Ever since the Maggi fiasco, where Nestle India's popular instant noodles were found to contain excessive lead levels and monosodium glutamate, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to focus more on processed and packaged foods.

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After Maggi fiasco, all packaged foods to be checked: FSSAI
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Ever since the Maggi fiasco, where Nestle India's popular instant noodles were found to contain excessive lead levels and monosodium glutamate, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to focus more on processed and packaged foods.

Yudhvir Singh Malik, CEO of FSSAI, told dna that, in a meeting of the food safety commissioners across the country on June 4, it was decided that packaged foods can no longer considered safe and food safety officers should now also collect their samples.

The meeting was not specifically convened in the background of the Maggi controversy. It was a regular one held by the central advisory committee of the FSSAI, but it marked a shift in the way food regulators perceived processed goods.

"Packaged foods are manufactured by an industry that had to adhere to all rules and regulations," said Malik.

The FSSAI chief insisted his organisation will not go after brands. It is simply a matter of collecting large sample sizes. "The focus of FSSAI has been to collect large samples of consumable goods, to increase our own data bank."

He said surveillance samples, collected for the database, cannot be used to impose penalties or take legal action. For that, regulatory samples have to be collected with the knowledge of retailers, and such enforcement can only be carried out by the state food authorities.

He clarified that there are standardised foods in the market that do not need FSSAI's approval. It is proprietary foods that do.

Commenting on instances of famous brands getting into trouble with FSSAI, he said that in the case of Tata Starbucks, the company itself failed to furnish the safety and health data to FSSAI. Hence, it was not approved. However, a number of Tata Starbucks ingredients also figure on the outright rejection list of FSSAI.

Many popular foods that line market shelves can be found in the FSSAI list on its website. Kellogg's Special- K Red Berry Cereal, snacks by McCains Foods, Oriflame India's Wellness Swedish Beauty Complex Plus, a chocolate mix by Amway India, Ranbaxy's Revital Tablets, for example, all had their approval rejected by the FSSAI.

Fun Foods saw 16 of its product files close since it did not provide timely responses to FSSAI queries. So did Kellogg India's Hot Chinese Oats, Dabur's powdered beverage, Nestle India's UTH treated sweet lassi, and a whipping cream by Mother Dairy.

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