INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has planned a revamp of inspection rules for food chains where it has labeled 8 categories of food as high-risk for which inspections will be mandatory.

The high-risk categories include dairy products and analogues, meat and meat products including poultry, fish and fish products, eggs and egg products, foodstuffs intended for nutritional uses, prepared food, Indian sweets, nutrients and their preparation –fortified rice kernels only.

The plan also has provisions for e-inspection through recorded video and live streaming of the premises.

An inspection plan has been framed, based on the risks associated with the food businesses, to enable the authorities to carry out the mandatory inspections of the premises of the food business operators (FBOs) for high-risk food categories in a more systematic and intensive manner.

“Commissioners of food safety of all states and Union territories must ensure strict implementation of the inspection plan and monitor the progress of inspections. They will also review the pendency, if any, regularly so that targeted inspections shall be conducted with the timeline as specified,” Inoshi Sharma, Executive Director, Compliance Strategy, FSSAI, said in an order to food commissioners of all states and Union territories.

In the new inspection protocol, FSSAI has also listed provisions for exemptions from inspection, such as the scoring system by third-party audit firms or a hygiene rating scheme.

According to Mint, FSSAI said if an FBO obtained 80%-plus score in FSSAI’s third party audit, the inspection by a food safety officer can be exempted for two financial years.

“These inspections can be conducted in a pre-informed manner rather than in the form of raids and searches. However, the designated officer can do a surprise inspection if there is information regarding serious food safety or an outbreak of food borne illness,” Arun Singhal, CEO, FSSAI, said in an interview.

Further, the inspection plan needs to be incorporated in the Food Safety Compliance System (FoSCoS) for systematic allotment of inspection to designated food safety officers.

It is also mandatory to carry out inspection using only the food safety inspection and sampling system –FoSCoRIS app.

Pre-license inspection is mandatory for manufacturers/processors of milk and milk products, meat and meat products, fish and fish products and slaughter houses, while for fortified rice kernels both pre- license and registration inspection is required.

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