The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to make third-party audits mandatory for food businesses involving certain high-risk categories.
To strengthen the food surveillance system, the FSSAI has, for the first time, introduced the concept of food safety audits through recognised private agencies.
In its latest directive, FSSAI said that food businesses that hold central licences that involve dairy products, meat and meat products, eggs and egg products, besides fish and fish products, will be subject to ‘mandatory food safety auditing.’
In addition, central licence holders that make food products for particular nutritional purposes such as infant products will also be subject to mandatory food safety audits through recognised third-party agencies.
The order stated that companies involved in prepared foods businesses such as for catering purposes will also need to get their operations audited in a timely manner.
Eligible private agencies
Last year, FSSAI had notified the food safety auditing regulations and, earlier this year, it recognised 24 private agencies eligible to conduct food safety audits of food companies.
Since inspecting and auditing of food businesses and packaged food companies is a huge task, the regulator had decided to introduce the concept of food safety audits through recognised private agencies. It had earlier stated that selected food categories on the “basis of their risk classification will be subject to mandatory food safety auditing.”
The food safety authority believes that satisfactory audits will lead to less frequent regulatory inspections by the Central and State Licensing Authority, except for regulatory sampling.
The regulator had earlier said that this will reduce the burden of regulatory inspection and encourage a culture of self-compliance among the food business ecosystem.
The regulator has already begun conducting food safety audits of nearly 486 government-licensed slaughterhouses.