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NEW DELHI : The food regulator has asked food commissioners of states and union territories to review the licences granted to bottlers following mounting complaints about packaged still and mineral water being sold without BIS certification in the scorching summer heat.

BIS or Bureau of Indian Standards certification is mandatory on packaged water bottles.

Inoshi Sharma, executive director, regulatory compliance at the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), who wrote the letters to states and union territories, told Mint, “We received this tip off in one of our meetings with Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) Manufacturers Association and we immediately took action."

“Many times, what happens when people seek FSSAI licence, (is that) they write to us that they have applied for BIS certificate, and we give licence to them on this assurance that they are also seeking a BIS certificate. We don’t know what happens and why food business operators do not take BIS numbers.

“Therefore, we have written to the States/UTs to conduct a special drive to ensure (if) all manufacturers of PDW and mineral water have BIS number or not, and accordingly action will be taken."

To sell packaged drinking water and mineral water, a BIS number is very important for the product, Sharma said.

In her letter, she said, “It is requested to review the licences granted for manufacturing of packaged drinking water and mineral water products under your jurisdiction and verify whether the said licencees have furnished the valid BIS certificate for the same through FoSCoS (Food Safety Compliance System) portal. In case... such certificates are not available, notice may be issued to the Food Business Operators (FBOs) to furnish the same in the time-bound manner. Failing such licences, licences may be cancelled/suspended as per FSS (Licensing and Registration of Food Business Regulation, 2011)," stated the letter.

As per BIS, the newly published standard for drinking water is IS 17482:2020.

The apex food regulator has also directed state governments to conduct a special drive to check the quality of packaged drinking water. FSSAI has sought ‘action taken’ reports from all food commissioners by 31 May.

Recently, FSSAI also received several complaints regarding misuse of the term ‘ORS’ [Oral Rehydration Salts) by certain fruit-based or non-carbonated or Ready to Drink beverage manufacturers by labelling or using terms similar to ORS like ‘ORSL’, ‘ORSL Rehydrate’, ‘Electro Plus ORS’ etc.

According to FSSAI, the product ‘ORS’ is a Drug under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules L945 which is used for the treatment of acute diarrhoea and has a specific composition prescribed by the Drugs Controller General of India.

The apex food regulator directed its counterparts in the state to review such labelling and rectify the labelling defects immediately while ensuring that the term ‘ORS’ is not used in the labelling of such products.

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