NEW DELHI : The government is all set to tighten the noose around manufacturers of organic food products. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the food regulator of the country, last week wrote to all food safety commissioners, authorised officers and its central designated officers to ensure that food business operators (FBOs), involved in the organic food business, should adhere to the regulations pertaining to organic food.

“The FBOs are required to ensure compliance of their products with all provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017. FBOs will also have to comply with various regulations notified under the FSS Act, 2006," said Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI.

The FSSAI decided that its organic logo (Jaivik Bharat) has to be used from 1 April 2019. This was based on representations by stakeholders and a review of the preparedness of the implementation of regulations concerning organic food.

“Retailers dealing with organic foods may also be required to get their licences endorsed during the renewal process. We are also monitoring the sale of organic foods on retail web portals," said Agarwal.

Mint had on 14 January 2019 reported how fake organic food products have entered the market and how people were ready to pay high prices for food that was ‘deemed’ healthy and safe without any guarantee of them being organic.

The 2017 regulations on safety and standards of organic foods recognize two systems of certification—the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), implemented by the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare and the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), implemented by the ministry of commerce and industry. The regulations state the labelling on the package of organic food should convey full and accurate information on the organic status of the product. Such products may carry a certification or government quality assurance mark.

Industry experts said that better surveillance and monitoring can help ensure the authenticity of organic foods.

A 2018 report of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, a trade association, estimates the Indian organic foods market at 40,000 million, a figure that is likely to increase to 100,000-120,000 million by 2020, similar increase in exports. The highest growth is observed in the organic food segment, followed by textile, beauty and personal care.

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