Food Safety and Standards Act – Everything a Restaurant Owner Should Know

The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 is a statute related to all food safety and regulation in India. Its main objective is to protect overall public health by regulating and supervising food safety every step of the way in food production. 

Today, it is illegal for any food business to carry out its operations without first acquiring a license by the FSSAI. The Act also lays down the penalties that have to be incurred, if a business is found not adhering to the norms laid down by the act. 

With more and more awareness about food safety, customers prefer to visit a restaurant that has an FSSAI license. They look for places that meet internationally laid down standards so that they don’t have to worry about the food they’re consuming. 

Who is the Issuing Authority?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India or the FSSAI is an autonomous body that sets food safety rules and regulations in the country. It was established by the Indian Government and falls under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. It is responsible for creating as well as enforcing food safety standards in India. The current Chairperson for FSSAI is Rita Teotia. 

The central functions of the FSSAI are:

  • Setting standards for different food products
  • Testing food to check if it meets international standards
  • Providing licenses for all food businesses
  • Raising awareness among consumers
  • Ensuring that food businesses comply with The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006
  • Training professionals in the domain of food safety

The duties of the FSSAI are:

  • To promote general awareness about food standards all across India
  • To take part in the development of international technical standards for different kinds of food as well as sanitary conditions for food production
  • To facilitate the safety of food
  • To regulate the production, storage, distribution, sales as well as import of food
  • To promote awareness as well as making information about the importance of nutrition and food safety available all over India
  • To reduce the pressure on courts when it comes to cases related to food safety or sanitary working conditions
  • Laying down rules and regulations that need to be followed for food safety standards
  • Collecting and compiling all the data available in the domains of food consumption, contamination, and possible risks and threats
  • Providing technical support as well as scientific advice to the Central Government so that they, in turn, can frame better-equipped policies and rules in India
  • Conduct training programs for all the people who work in food businesses or plan to enter the industry at any point in the future 
  • Creating a platform where all retailers and consumers in rural as well as urban areas can easily access accurate information about food safety as well as learn about the risks or threats involved
  • Laying down detailed procedures or rules that laboratories need to follow in order to receive accreditation
  • Laying down detailed procedures or rules that certification bodies involved particularly in the certification of food safety management need to follow in order to receive accreditation

Here’s an infographic that lists down the hygiene rule codes of the FSSAI.

FSSA for restaurants image bulletin 

Why was the Food Safety and Standards Act incorporated?

The development of food standards is a process that is constantly undergoing changes, It is based on the latest developments in the fields of food science, food consumption patterns, additives or preservatives and new risks that have been identified. 

Before 2006, there were several acts and regulatory bodies that were in the domain of food safety. There was a lack of standardization or uniformity across these bodies. So, there was a severe need to merge all of these into one umbrella body to make food security all over the country simpler and more accessible. 

Moreover, there were different departments at various levels responsible for efficient administration. This created a lot of confusion and brought about the need for one single reference point for all matters relating to Food Safety Standards and their enforcement. 

The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 came into existence by merging 7 older acts into one new act. These older laws also revolved around ensuring the utmost food safety but were each restricted to only one category of food items.  

By bringing all the acts together, the new Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 also takes into account internationally set standards. 

The food business operators, who were already licensed or registered with the previously existing food laws were supposed to register or to obtain a license under the new Food Safety Standards Act of 2006

Which Businesses have to adhere to the FSSAI Act?

Any food-related business needs to acquire an FSSAI license. The business receives a 14 digit license number. There are 3 kinds of licenses, depending on the scale of operations carried out by a business. 

  • FSSAI Central License
    Any food business that has a turnover of more than 20 Crore rupees per year needs to acquire this license. Businesses that would like to take part in international trade also need to do so. The minimum validity for a Central License is 1 year and the maximum is 5 years.
  • FSSAI State License
    A food business that has a turnover of more than 12 Lakh rupees every year but less than 20 Crore rupees needs to acquire this license. It is also only for restaurants that carry out operations in one single state. The minimum validity for a State License is 1 year and the maximum is 5 years.
  • FSSAI Basic Registration

Small food businesses that make a turnover of less than 12 Lakh rupees per year only have to do basic registration with the FSSAI. The minimum validity for this is 1 year and the maximum is 5 years.

You can apply for an FSSAI license online. Once you have a license, you will also receive notifications for timely renewal of your license. 

The fee charged by FSSAI for a license is:

  • FSSAI Registration: Rs. 100 per year
  • FSSAI State License: Rs. 2000- 5000 per year
  • FSSAI Central License: Rs.7500 per year

What are the Penalties on non-adherence to the FSSA Act?

The FSSA Act provides details about penalties levied on food businesses for illegal activities. Some of them are:

  • Penalty for sub-standard food
    If someone is found selling food of a poor quality that has been produced or even imported by him or her, there will be a penalty levied which may extend up to five lakh rupees. This is because selling sub-standard food is not in compliance with the provisions of the FSSAI Act or its regulations. 
  • Penalty for promoting misleading advertisement
    Marketing well is one of the easiest ways to win over customers. If a restaurant is found guilty of putting out misleading advertisements just to entice customers, it will be liable to a penalty which may extend up to ten lakh rupees. 
  • Penalty for food that contains extraneous matter
    Any person who is found guilty of storing or selling any article of food for human consumption containing extraneous matter shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees. 
  • Penalty for failing to comply with the strict directions of the Food Safety Officer
    If a food business operator or importer fails to comply with the requirements of the FSSAI Act or orders issued by the Food Safety Officer, he would be liable to a penalty which might extend to a fee of two lakh rupees. Unless there is a valid reason for non-compliance, a restaurant will have to pay the penalty. 
  • Penalty for the commercial use of unhygienic or unsanitary processing or manufacturing of food
    Any person who is involved in the manufacture or processing of food items meant for human consumption under unhygienic or unsanitary conditions would be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees. 

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Recent Initiatives of Food Safety

To raise awareness about the importance of food safety, FSSAI has launched various initiatives in the country. Some of these are:

  • Heart Attack Rewind
    This is a mass media campaign of FSSAI. Its primary goal is to ensure that we meet FSSAI’s goal of eliminating trans fat entirely all over the country by the year 2022. 
  • Project Clean Street Food: This initiative has been taken up the FSSAI to ensure that there is awareness about food safety among food vendors. They are also trained to ensure that all regulations laid down by the FSSAI Act are met. This way, consumers can rest assured that the street food they consume is hygienic and meets safety standards. It also increases the popularity of street food in general, transforming it into a sort of entirely new brand name. 
  • National Street Food Festival: This Festival was organized in December 2019 by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) and the FSSAI. The theme was “Healthier Diets” and the primary goal at hand was to bring attention to the different initiatives taken up by the FSSAI to inculcate the habit of eating right among citizens. The FSSAI also had its second edition of ‘National Eat Right Mela’ to promote healthy foods. Through this Mela, FSSAI wanted to make Indian Street food seem more appealing and hygienic, to increase its popularity. 
  • MoU with Nasscom: The FSSAI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nasscom Foundation which is a trade association. Together, they will create an online platform to prevent the wastage of food and also encourage consumers and businesses to donate food regularly. They also plan to develop a mobile application for the same, along with a helpline number where people can donate food to those in need. In the future, Restaurants and hotels will easily be able to donate leftover food using this platform. 
  • Eat Right India Movement: This national campaign was launched by the FSSAI in 2018. Its main objective is to improve overall public health as well as promote the prevention of lifestyle diseases. It encourages people to focus on eating healthy food as well as safe and hygienic food, all while making appropriate choices in their diet. It also encourages retailers to provide good quality products and meet food standards. 

Getting a Food License helps your restaurant in many ways. Whether you want to expand operations, attract more people or simply market yourself as a food business that cares about the well-being of its customers, getting a food license is your best shot. The process to acquire a food license is simple and can be done online. 

Now that you know all about the FSSAI and the FSSA Act, get started on applying for your license and provide your customers with the best possible service they can get. 

Good luck! 

Sakshi Trehan

Sakshi Trehan

Sakshi Trehan is a content writer at LimeTray. She loves reading a good book while sipping equally good coffee. She can often be found listening to music by Norah Jones or A.R. Rahman