Food safety, certification programmes, animal safety and disease

Livestock legislation

List the main applicable enacted legislation for primary processors of live animals.

India is predominantly a meat-exporting country. There is demand for Indian meat in the world market because of its lean and predominantly organic nature. Previously the governing legislation for governing primary processors of live animals was the Meat Food Products Order 1973 which was repealed by The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. Under the FSSAI, meat products are divided into fresh meat, poultry, and processed meat. Fresh meat is meat that has not undergone any chemical treatments with preservatives to extend its freshness. Processed meat is meat that has undergone various methods like salting, drying, processing or fermenting by non-heat treatment and also by using preservatives. There are some measures that are to be followed in meat storage and handling under the FSSAI, such as fresh meat should be chilled between zero to 7 degrees Celsius and frozen meat should be stored at -18 degrees Celsius or below, and all frozen meat should be consumed within 10 days.

There is hardly any difference between the meat products meant for domestic consumption and those intended for export. The meat industry for domestic consumption is largely concerned with fresh meat, which is processed and sold on a daily basis, whereas the export-oriented meat industry is primarily concerned with frozen meat products.

The export units have to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Animals Act 1960, the Animal Welfare Board and Bureau of Indian Standards for transportation of all animals.

Food safety regime

Describe food safety regulations for meat and poultry products, and all other food products in your jurisdiction.

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 deals with food safety in India. The Act, in force, gives statutory powers to the FSSAI. The FSSAI is an agency under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that has its headquarters in New Delhi and eight regional offices in Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cochin and Chennai.

Some of the key functions of the FSSAI include:

  • framing of regulations to lay down food safety standards;
  • laying down guidelines for accreditation of laboratories for food testing;
  • providing scientific advice and technical support to the central government;
  • contributing to the development of international technical standards in food;
  • collecting and collating data regarding food consumption, contamination, emerging risks, etc; and
  • disseminating information and promoting awareness about food safety in India.
Safety enforcement

What enforcement can take place in relation to food safety? What penalties may apply?

There are a number of pieces of legislation that cater to different aspects of food safety, the most important of these are the following.

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006

This enactment lays down science-based standards for articles of food and regulates manufacturing, storage, distribution, sales and imports, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and matters connected therewith.

The Act contains multiple provisions for penalties that concern:

  • selling food that is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded;
  • substandard food;
  • misbranded food;
  • food containing extraneous matter;
  • unhygienic or unsanitary processing or manufacturing of food;
  • possessing adulterant; and
  • compensation in the event of injury or death of the consumer after eating the food article, etc.

Any person contravening provisions of this Act is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

The Essential Commodities Act 1955

This Act enables the central government to regulate and control the production, supply, distribution, storage, transport, pricing and trade of certain essential commodities in the interest of the general public, ensuring easy availability of essential commodities and protection against exploitation by unscrupulous traders.

Any person contravening provisions of this Act is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

The Seeds Act 1966

This Act provides for regulating the quality of a variety of seeds for release in the market. Any person contravening provisions of this Act is liable to imprisonment, a fine or both.

Product certification

Describe any certification programmes and regulations for genetically modified foods and organic foods.

A prerequisite for farmers following organic cultivation methods is that they should use organically certified seeds in their farms.

Farmers should follow all the organic certification standards according to the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), in addition to the seed certification standards for the production of certified organic seeds. For the production of such seeds, farmers have to register their land with any of the accredited organic certification bodies in India and also the seed crop with the Department or Board of Seed Certification in their respective state. The NPOP is regulated by the Agricultural and the APEDA.

Organic food products that are manufactured must be marked with the India Organic certification mark issued by the APEDA. In a similar vein, agricultural products may only be exported as ‘organic’ if certified by an accredited agency.

In the exercise of powers conferred by sections 6, 8 and 25 of the Environment Protection Act 1986, the central government has laid down the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989, which mainly regulates development, environmental release and commercial approval of genetically modified crops.

A set procedure has been laid for the release of these products in the marketplace, after which the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, one of the statutory committees prescribed under the above rules, is the competent authority to approve or prohibit the release of these foods in the marketplace. The government has also established Jaivik Bharat, a regulatory portal for organic food in India. The portal is a database jointly developed by the FSSAI, APEDA and PGS-India on Organic food standards, certification processes, information relating to FBOs, their products and geographical areas in which they are available. The Organic Food products may be searched by name of the food and by the name of the company as well. The unified logo provided by the portal is an identity mark to differentiate organic products from non-organic ones with the tagline ‘Jaivik Bharat’ at the bottom.

Food labelling requirements

What are the food labelling requirements, including the applicable enacted legislation, enforcement and penalties?

In 2018, the FSSAI declared new regulations with respect to food packaging. The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations, 2018 replace the packaging provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011.

Under these regulations, every packaged item of food has to be labelled with the following information:

  • name of the food;
  • list of ingredients;
  • nutritional information;
  • declaration of whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian;
  • declaration regarding food additives;
  • name and complete address of the manufacturer;
  • net quantity;
  • lot, code and batch number;
  • date of manufacture or packing;
  • ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates;
  • country of origin for imported food; and
  • instructions for use.

The penalty for misbranding of food is a fine of up to 300,000 rupees, and for misleading advertising, up to 1 million Indian rupees.

Food animal legislation

List the main applicable enacted legislation regarding health of food animals, including transportation and disease outbreak and management.

Legislative measures have been taken by many states for prevention and control of contagious animal diseases. The law provides for regulation of:

  • the entry and movement of infected animals into different states;
  • their registration and treatment;
  • regulation of markets, fairs and exhibitions;
  • cleaning and disinfection of vehicles used for the transport of diseased animals; and
  • reporting the occurrence of scheduled diseases.

The Transport of Animals Rules 1978, made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, caters to these aspects. There is also a central act - the Livestock Importation Act 1898, amended in 2001 - under which the central government has the authority to regulate, restrict or prohibit the entry by sea, land or air into India of any livestock affected or that is liable to be affected by diseases, or the importation of fodder, dung, clothing, harnesses, etc., pertaining to the livestock. State governments have been empowered by the central government to frame rules under the Act and set up quarantine stations for such purpose.

Most of the states have framed comprehensive laws for the prevention and control of certain important infectious diseases, including:

  • the Madhya Pradesh Cattle Diseases Act 1934;
  • the Tamil Nadu Rinderpest Act 1940;
  • the Bengal Diseases of Animals Act 1944;
  • the Assam Cattle Diseases Act 1948; and
  • the Orissa Animal Contagious Diseases Act 1959.

The main objectives of these acts are to control the spread of notified infectious diseases and to curtail the infection by vaccination, treatment and destruction of infected livestock. The Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act 2009 aims to provide for:

  • the prevention, control and eradication of infectious and contagious diseases affecting animals;
  • the prevention of outbreaks or spread of such diseases from one state to another;
  • meeting the international obligations of India for facilitating import and export of animals and animal products; and
  • matters connected therewith or any incident thereto.

Also, the livestock health division in the DADF, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, has been specially established to curb the spread of the prevalent diseases in livestock and poultry. Through the Livestock Health & Disease Control scheme, a centrally sponsored scheme launched by the DADF in August 2010, efforts are made towards the prevention, control and containment of animal diseases the Livestock Health & Disease Control scheme comprising the following components:

  • the National Animal Disease Control Programme;
  • the Foot and Mouth Disease Control Programme;
  • the Peste des Petits Ruminants Control Programme;
  • the Brucellosis Control Programme;
  • the Classical Swine Fever Control Programme;
  • the Assistance to States for Control of Animal Diseases;
  • the National Project on Rinderpest Surveillance and Monitoring; and
  • the National Animal Disease Reporting System.
Animal movement restrictions

What are the restrictions on the movement of animals within your country?

There are certain conditions regarding the transportation of animals that are dealt with under Rule 96 and Rule 98 of the Transport of Animal (Amendment) Rules 2001. Rule 96 lays down that before transportation of any animal, a valid certification has to be procured from any animal welfare organisation, duly authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India for the purpose of certifying that all the rules and orders pertaining to the said animals, as notified by the state and central government, have been duly complied with. Under Rule 98, animals should only be transported when they are healthy. Any unhealthy or unfit animals should be examined by a veterinary doctor to ensure that it is free from any infectious disease. Diseased animals should be kept separately from other animals during treatment. Under the Rules, there are different rules for transportation of different categories of animals.

Transporting or carrying animals in any vehicle, in any manner or position, that causes discomfort, pain or suffering is a punishable offence under two central Acts, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animal on Foot) Rules 2001 and the Motor Vehicles Act 1978.

Slaughter legislation

Where would one find the regulations related to livestock slaughtering?

India is the second-largest exporter of beef and the fifth-largest producer of beef in the world. Most of the meat comes from buffalo and not cows (the Constitution calls for the protection and preservation of cows). According to data from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, 24 states have imposed restrictions and penalties of varying degrees on the slaughter of cows. The slaughtering of cows is banned in some states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules 2001, were framed to regulate livestock slaughtering. Rule 3 puts a few restrictions on the conditions under which an animal can be slaughtered. Also, it states that animals should be slaughtered only in recognised or licensed premises.

Pest control requirements

Outline the regulatory regime for pesticides in your jurisdiction.

The importation, manufacturing, sale and distribution of pesticides are regulated under the Insecticides Act 1968 (amended in 2000) and Insecticides Rules 1971. There is a provision for the registration of pesticides at central government level and licensing for manufacturing and sale of pesticides after registration. Registration is granted only after the efficacy of the pesticide and its safety in relation to human beings and animals can be assured. Samples are drawn for analysis on a regular basis to check quality thereof. As per the rules on insecticides, the labels and leaflets form an integral part of containers of every pesticide and are approved by the registration committee. These form identification marks for every pesticide.

Another regulation, the Destructive Insects and Pests (Amendment) Act 1939 provides for measures against entry of pests and diseases from other countries into India. Suitable provisions also exist in the Act for preventing the spread of pests and diseases from one state to another within the country. For implementing the provisions relating to the prevention of the entry of injurious pests and diseases, a chain of plant quarantine and fumigation stations has been established at all airports, seaports and land frontiers. The state governments have also passed suitable legislation for dealing with epidemics in plant diseases and pests.