FSSAI is the main body responsible for maintaining, supervising, and setting up regulations relating to food safety across the country. A food business operator has to register and get a Food license before they begin conducting business, or else the FSSAI will treat them with their long list of penalties. If FBOs conduct business without a Food Licence, they are breaking a lot of rules and regulations, each coming with separate penalties and fines.
However, the application process for this is not as straight forward as many might make it seem. Although forms and steps are available online, businesses could be eligible for one out of three categories of the FSSAI, Food license. Furthermore, gathering information can sometimes be challenging. The FBO has to apply under the right category depending on a lot of the details of their business. Since most Food Licences are valid for a year, they have to renew the process annually, and might have to change their registration section depending on the business the following year.
Applying for the right licence also depends on the size of the company, the number of branches they have throughout the country, and their annual turnover. The kind of business they are running also has something to do with it.
What are the benefits of applying for a food licence?
There are multiple advantages, including from a business point of view, for companies that want to benefit from the application process. The main one being that the FSSAI is a massive brand and associating with the FSSAI benefits any business since they would automatically fall under the FSSAI umbrella. The recognition that brands receive significantly increases. Creating customer awareness by allowing more customers to know about the business which is an added benefit.
There are multiple legal benefits of having a food license since the establishment will regularly be inspected by the FSSAI, which often handles a vetting process implying that they check everything going on at the establishment, thoroughly. It also creates a system of accountability amount the clients who now feel safer visiting the establishment. The regular inspections also guarantee food safety since that is the main priority of the FSSAI. Furthermore, it assists and regulates, the manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of import food.
To have an FSSAI registration, the Food Business Operators have to follow specific rules and regulations under the FSS Act, 2006. Before registering, the FSSAI authorities conduct an in-person registration on the premises. They also conduct surprise inspections throughout the process to make sure the establishment is keeping up with the guidelines.
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The various levels of compliance are
- Compliance (C)
- Non-compliance (NC)
- Partial compliance (PC)
- Not applicable/Not observed (NA)
According to the same Act, the Food Safety inspector has to issue an improvement notice based on the compliance level of the establishment. If they cannot comply with the improvement notice, they receive a chance to show cause and then could even end up losing their licence.
There are times where the food business operator might disagree with the improvement, and they can appeal to the State Commissioner of Food Safety. They can challenge the decision by appealing to the Food safety appellate tribunal/high court.