Food and Safety Standards Authority of India, the autonomous body that regulates food safety and regulations in India, published the Food Safety and Standards (Recovery and Distribution of Surplus Food) Regulations, 2019 (“the Regulation). The Regulation streamlines and specifies the responsibilities of food donors, food banks and food distribution organizations that are engaged in distributing surplus food to any person free of cost. The parties have to comply with these regulations by 01.07.2020.
The Regulation defines surplus food as any leftover unused portions of safe food that have not been served to the customers. A food distribution organization has been defined as any person or any organization that collects surplus food from food donor(s) and distributes directly to any person free of cost without any profit.
Along with defining the roles, responsibilities of the food donor/food business operator, food distribution organization and labeling requirements amongst other requirements has also been elaborated. The food donor/food business operator shall be obligated not to distribute unsafe food and to handover the surplus food at a reasonable time so that the food doesn’t expire or go bad before it is distributed to any person. Further the food donor has to pack the food appropriately so as to avoid any contamination and store the same in hygienic conditions to ensure safety.
The food distribution organization has to ensure that the surplus food that is being procured by them is being procured from a reliable source having valid registration and license. The food distribution organization also requires having a proper storage, reheating and transporting facility in place.
Apart from the obvious responsibilities of the parties the Regulation also importantly provides requirements of labeling donated food. Requirements for labeling of donated food depend on whether the food is in its original package or has been prepared as meal. Donated pre-packed and prepared food name of the item or food, manufacturer information, source of food, list of ingredients, and date of expiry.
Lastly the Regulation provides for a monitoring committee constituted by the Commissioner of Food Safety of each state which shall monitor and make recommendations for improvement and will further hold training programmes in health and hygiene.
The adoption of these Regulations will streamline the structure to be followed by food banks and food donors which will benefit the consumer. This will further ensure that the parties involved, especially the food donor, maintains the quality of surplus food and the end user consumes nutritious and healthy food.