Considering the importance food in human lives, it is of utmost importance that the food products commercialized in the market are of acceptable safety and standards. In India, the quality of food products sold are regulated by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as “FSSAI”) under the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006(hereinafter referred to as the “FSSAI Act”). Any person carrying out food business in India has to ensure compliance with the FSSAI Act.
Permission To Carry Out Food Business In India
In order to carry out food business operations in India, it is mandatory for the entrepreneurs to obtain FSSAI registrations issued under the provisions of the FSSAI Act. For small food businesses with a turnover of less than INR 12,00,000. Whereas a FSSAI licence in India is applicable for businesses with an annual turnover of more than INR 12,00,000. A FSSAI licence is location specific as each separate outlet of the food business is required mandatorily obtain a FSSAI licence in India.
Complaint Against Food Business Operator
It is often observed that the promised quality of food is not delivered which may cause disappointment to the consumer or may even affect his/ her health severely.
Complaint Process To Be Followed
- Types of complaint
If a consumer is aggrieved from the quality of a food business, he/ she may follow the below procedure with a view to get justice against the false promises made.
A consumer can file a complaint with either FSSAI or the State Authorities including the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 as amended in 2019. The following type of complaints can be registered with the above-mentioned authorities –
- Food Adulteration.
- Food poisoning
- Food contaminations
- Misleading labeling and packaging
- Misleading Advertisements
- Licensing and registration related grievances.
- Counterfeit products
- Sub-standard quality of food products
- Unhygienic Conditions and malpractices by Food Business Operators
- Unauthorized use of food ingredients
A consumer can also file his complaint in relation to the violation of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Additionally, if the enforcement officers of States or the Centre are found to be in violation of any prescribe code of conduct, a complaint can also be made against them.
- Filing of complaint
A consumer can file a complaint with regard to the above matters through various channels. These include the following:
- government portals including the official website of FSSAI where an aggrieved can register his complaint
- formal representations can also be made to the State Authorities like the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, as mentioned above
- social media platforms, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, FSSAI blog page, etc.
- Inspection of the matter
Upon the receipt of complaint/grievance, a Designated Officer is appointed to inspect into the complaint. The Designated Officer may examine the complaint/grievance and if found the samples are required to be lifted or inspection of premises is required, he may forward the same to the concerned food safety officer. Food safety Officer may inspect the premises or may draw samples as per the merits of the case under intimation to designated officer.
Upon inspection of the premises and examination of the samples, if the Officer is satisfied that there has been a contravention of the provisions of the FSS Act or subsequent regulations, it will first issue an improvement notice to the food business operator stating the grounds on which the operator has failed to comply with the order. Additionally, the Officer shall also mention in the improvement notice measures to be taken by the operator for ensuring compliance.
The food business operator has to comply with the improvement notice within the time as prescribed by the officer (not being less than 14 days).
If the food business operator does not comply with the food safety laws even after issuance of Improvement Notice, it can cancel the FSSAI license for such food business.
Appeal – If the food business operator is aggrieved by the order of the Officer, it can appeal to the Commissioner of Food Safety, within 15 days of the date of such order, whose decision thereon, shall be final.
- Outcome and penalties
Upon establishment of an offence under the FSS Act, 2006 a food business operator may be punished with a fine up to INR 1,00,000 or a life time imprisonment depending upon the gravity of offence as specified under the Act.
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