In India, if an organisation wants to run its food business, then it is necessary to get either the FSSAI registration or license. The FSSAI or Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is the Apex regulatory body for food business in the country. While most of the food business are familiar with the process of getting FSSAI License, they find it difficult to understand the process of renewal of the license. Also, Small Food Vendors are less aware of the compliance requirements that must be met by them post getting the registration certificate from the authority. In the following sections, we will explore the rules and process of FSSAI renewal and compliance norms for food vendors.
FSSAI Renewal Process for License and Registration
Once a food vendor gets a license or Registration certificate from FSSAI, it is valid for 1 to 5 years. At least one month before this period ends, a food vendor must file for renewal of license or registration. This will ensure that that license will be renewed before the arrival of its expiry date. The process of renewal is given in the following section.
Documents Requirement for Renewal
- Application form number A or B, as per applicability
- Form – C
- A Declaration by the Owner/Proprietor, Applicant Partners or Administrators, that they will adhere to compliance norms of the authority and follow all the rules related to business operations.
- Photo ID of the Proprietor, Partners or administrator of the business applying for renewal.
Verification Process for Renewal
One the documents for renewal are filed with the authority, its official will start scrutinising the forms and relevant documents. There are chances that they visit the official location of the business to carry out physical inspection of the premises, equipment, machinery, and operations. They will verify these on the basis of the guidelines of the authority. The officials also probe the authenticity of the documents.
If the FSSAI officials find the application, documents, and operations valid as per their procedures, they will grant the renewal certificate. The renewed certificate or registration is again valid for a max. period of five years. The period of validity can be chosen by the Food business operator in the range of 1-5 years. The fee for the same will vary as per the chosen renewal period.
Things Applicant Must Know before Applying
- Getting the FSSAI License or restraints registration from the authority is mandatory for any food business operator in the country.
- The name given by the applicant on the application form A or B will be the final considered name that will be used for the food license certificate. Applicants must ensure that this name has no spelling error.
- All further communication related to the renewal procedure will be intimated on the email ID and mobile number mentioned in the Application. Thus, one must ensure that both the mobile number and email ID are active.
- Post application, a unique reference no. is generated. This no. is used for all further communication related to FSSAI certificate generation.
- In case the business operations of the food business operator is rapidly expanding, then the business will need a Central FSSAI license for its main head office and separate state license or FSSAI registration for its branch locations.
- In case the business is an importer of food items, it will get the Central License Certificate issued on the address given on their IEC (Import Export Code).
- A single branch or unit of a food business will need a single certificate. An applicant should ensure that all the food items or the food processes are mentioned on the application form. The fee payment for the business will vary accordingly.
Provisions related to Non-Compliance
All the food business vendors in the country expected to be compliant with the Rules and regulations of the FSSAI. The rules are updated from time to time and hence, a food business company should keep itself updated with all such rules. The FSSAI officials conduct separate investigations and quality checks of such companies to ensure that these firms are adhering to the provisions of.
During the inspection, the Food Safety officers of the authority check the premises and machinery of the company. They check whether the company is working as per the safety rules or not. They also examine the working conditions of the company environment and give suggestions in case it needs Improvement. The officials also hold the authority to cancel registration or license of the firm or impose heavy fines, in case the company is not meeting the set standards.
Consequently, the officials determine a level of compliance specific to the business and as per the regulations set by the Food safety authority, using a checklist. There are certain levels of compliance mentioned on the checklist based on which the company gets its compliance score. Following are the levels of compliance for a company.
- Partial compliance (PC),
- Compliance (C),
- Non-compliance (NC), or
- Not applicable (NA).
In cases where the officials observe that the company is not working as per the compliance norms, they can issue improvement notices to the company. The notice will contain advice on steps of improvement the company should take to improve food safety in the company. The authority will give a certain time to the business to incorporate those changes in the system and if the changes are not implemented in the stipulated time period, then the authority will issue a Show Cause Notice to the business.
In case the aggrieved business the improvement notice issued to it is unfair or has objections on the inspection process, it can appeal to the state commissioner of food safety for revocation of such notice by explaining his cause.
However, the decision made by the Food Safety Commissioner can also be challenged in the food safety Appellate Authority or in the respective High Court. The decision of such judiciary bodies is deemed final.
Penalties for Non-compliance
The authorities have introduced a system of penalties for food companies or businesses who are not complying with the norms of the authority. The system is uniform and applicable for all entities. Following is the list of penalties mentioned by the FSSAI for non complying entities.
- Businesses who are liable to take certification from the authority but are operating without FSSAI registration can be fined up to a fee of Rs. 5 lakh and the owners may face imprisonment.
- In case of selling food articles of sub-standard quality, the fine can be imposed up to Rs. 5 lakhs. In such scenarios, the person selling the food item or the person working on behalf of such an entity will be held responsible.
- For selling misbranded food items, the fine can be imposed up to Rs. 3 lakh on the person selling the product.
- To the businesses selling, storing, packing, distributing, or importing food items containing any superfluous or banned ingredient, a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh can be imposed. In cases where the foul food item or adulterated food product became the cause of mortality due to consumption, the food business can face a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakhs or even imprisonment, in case the harm caused is severe.