FSSAI is here to help Indians eat better.
The regulator is redefining its role from handing out licenses and occasional food quality tests, to an organization that helps address the larger question of nutrition and public health.
Here’s a roundup of all the highlights from this story so far:
- In August, FSSAI launched the Eat Right Movement, aimed at getting citizens to choose healthier food and dietary options and also ensuring food safety — from procurement to consumption and disposal.
- It had started this new movement by focusing on online food aggregators and delivery platforms like Zomato, Swiggy, Foodpanda, and Ubereats, back in July this year. It had demanded that Food Business Operators comply with its food safety guidelines or risk getting delisted, after complaints about the quality of food served by FBOs listed on these platforms. Given the 50,000 odd restaurants listed on these platforms, the deadline for this exercise was set for the end of September.
- Preliminary reviews by FSSAI so far reveal a 90% compliance by the online platforms. More on this as the story evolves.
“Most of our high-order volume restaurant partners already have an FSSAI license or have applied for one,” says Mohit Gupta, CEO, food delivery business, Zomato. “We have delisted those who have failed to furnish licenses.”
Delisting count so far:
10,000 unlicensed restaurants by Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats, and Foodpanda.
Zomato – 2500
Swiggy – 4000
Foodpanda – 1800
Ubereats – 2000
FSSAI has now asked these food aggregators to submit the names of the defaulting restaurants so that it can initiate action against them, under the FSS Act, 2006.
- The focus moves beyond online food platforms to dine-in restaurants and takeaways. FSSAI has been holding regular discussions with the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India. All this, to open up a dialogue between the food industry and the government.
President of NRAI and CEO of Beer Cafe Rahul Singh believes that this strict protocol by FSSAI is towards promoting a healthier lifestyle for Indians. But the dialogues have been inclusive so far taking into account all stakeholders and the complexities of the Indian food business. So a lot of initiatives have been voluntary for restaurants, so far.
- FSSAI has also made moves that impact FMCG and consumer goods brands. Kellogg India is one of the companies that has pledged to reduce the sugar by 10-15% and salt by 10-30% in its products by 2021, as part of the programme. Increasingly, the regulator plans to partner with other FMCG companies to influence the quality of food that we eat.
- FSSAI has also been looking at the street food market to lay down hygiene and sanitation standards for street food businesses. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is implementing a “clean street food hub programme”, with the first examples already to be seen in Ahmedabad’s Kankaria lake area. But street food quality regulation first demands that the vendors have access to clean water and a garbage disposal system, among others. This program also aims to boost business for the (approx) 20 lakh street food vendors in India, by certifying them for hygiene maintained.
- Schools, offices, hospitals and places of worship are also on the list for possible evaluation.
- FSSAI now wants restaurants to display calorific values for food items in the menu. But the restaurant industry is opposed to the idea. FSSAI intends for this to apply only to the big players for now, with over 20 establishments in the country having Central licenses.
We are expecting more details on the de-listing of Food Business Operators and restaurants from online platforms. We will keep you posted as it happens.