Food sector updates- Week 3

Key Developments:

  • The processed food controversy has resulted in a decline in sales of pasta and other packaged goods between May and June 2015, reflecting decrease in consumer confidence in this segment of products. Retailers are similarly concerned about stocking such products.
  • Commenters like Seema Sengupta have questioned FSSAI’s motivations in targeting multinational food and beverage companies, while an editorial in Hindu Business Line has highlighted the implications of the controversy for the government’s Make In India campaign and on Brand India. Deficiencies in FSSAI’s testing and monitoring infrastructure have similarly been identified
  • The processed food controversy has resulted in a 90% decline in sales of instant noodles between May and June
    2015. Yippee noodles is especially expected to benefit from the absence of competition in the market.
  • Significant media coverage has focused on a family of five that allegedly fell sick after consuming instant noodles in Shillong; local authorities have initiated an inquiry into the matter. Additionally, the Supreme Court is also hearing a case alleging extensive food adulteration by an advocate based in Delhi, and carcinogenic food colour additives are also being examined by authorities
  • ASSOCHAM has sought PM’s intervention to end the crackdown on the processed food industry.
  • In a consultation with Union Commerce Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, State government ministers passed a unanimous resolution to move FSSAI from the ambit of the Health Ministry to the Food and Consumer Ministry, as the latter is better equipped with laboratories and consumer courts for regulating food safety. The consultation also mapped an action plan to check the prices of staple foods in the near future.
  • Food authorities have extended their examination to fast food chains, such as McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, while food and beverage companies are initiating efforts to protect their brands from possible actions by FSSAI. While an increasing number of incidents of food contamination are being reported by consumers to authorities, consumers are also advocating for raids and closer inspection of foods supplied by food and beverage companies.
  • Nestlé’s payment of INR 20 crore to Ambuja Cements for destruction of Maggi noodles worth Rs 320 crores has been extensively covered by the media Government has initiated policy-level actions following the food crisis. Stating that FSSAI is creating a food scare in India and inhibiting innovations in the country’s food processing sector, Minister of Food Processing Industries has established a task force to address bottlenecks in the sector. Additionally, a Parliamentary panel will discuss regulations of toxic contents in packaged food on July 10th. FSSAI has also invited comments on draft standards for a wider group of consumable products.
  • Issue of milk adulteration has garnered extensive media coverage, with food inspectors across the country raiding retail points and dairy booths, while nutritionists presented views on the health impacts of milk adulteration
  • AIFPA (All India Food Processors’ Association of India) has also questioned the legality of FSSAI’s food approval processes and recent actions against the food industry.


News updates:

FSSAI, states never shared the test results based on which Maggi was banned, says Nestle, The Economic Times, 10 July 2015

A company spokesperson said no test reports were sent to it before June 5, 2015 (when FSSAI announced the ban), except one from a Kolkata laboratory for a single sample of Maggi noodles sent by the Uttar Pradesh FDA in April

Global valuation consultancy Brand Finance estimates another Rs 1,270 crore in brand loss. The company claims it has not been given a chance to explain its position before FSSAI and state authorities banned the product alleging excessive levels of lead in it and mislabeling on the pack

Global standards for food safety set for revision, The Times of India, 10 July 2015

Countries all over the world have come together to revise international standards for food safety and quality, even as concerns have
grown in India in the past two months after the food regulator cracked down on major brands including Maggi, Top Ramen and some products of Tata Starbucks

The new norms will contain stringent benchmarks for various categories such as level of lead, standards for safe use of food additives and pesticides, new standards for ginseng products as well as guidelines on how food should be labelled according to the level of potassium consumption associated with a reduced risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases

Food regulator needs to streamline provisions: Minister, PTI, The Statesman,, Business Standard, The Free Press Journal, 9 July 2015

Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has formed a task force for the growth of the sector following her request

She has noted that an environment of fear has been created in the food processing industry, which is vital for food security and farmers. Moves by FSSAI have discouraged innovations in the food processing sector

Up to 75% companies who adulterate, misbrand food go scot-free, Business Standard, 9 July 2015

Three of every four companies found guilty of misbranding or selling adulterated food products get away without any punishment, according to health ministry records

The conviction rate of products is low because there is a shortage of food analysts and whilst there are substantial fines for mislabeling, adulterating or selling unsafe food, enforcement is lax

Maggi is safe, says Bengaluru nutrition start-up, The Hindu, 9 July 2015

Bengaluru-based start-up Wise Tummy, which partnered with a NABL-certified lab in Chennai, has found levels in Maggi noodles well within permissible levels

Task force to help cos address issues raised by food regulator: Harsimrat, The Hindu Business Line, 9 July 2015

A taskforce will be created by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI), which will help companies tackle issues raised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and to ensure better co-ordination between MoFPI and the FSSAI

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has stated that industry progress and consumer safety must occur simultaneously. The task force is being created to iron out issues relating to product approvals

FSSAI for fixing limits of melamine in milk, milk products, Business Today, 8 July 2015

The FSSAI has proposed setting up a maximum permissible limit of melamine content in milk and related products, whilst there is already a limit on the presence of insecticides and metal contaminants in milk and milk products

Melamine is largely used in plastic and fertiliser industry

Maggi row: PM urged to save Rs 90000 cr packaged food industry investment, FnB News

ASSOCHAM has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention, stating that an investment of Rs 90,000 crore could be jeopardised by consumer distrust being spread by the government machinery following withdrawal of Maggi from the market

Food regulator FSSAI to regulate fish products, India Today, 8 July 2015

The FSSAI has come up with strict regulations for fish products, and has established permissible limits for contaminants and biotoxins

However, a major source of contaminants in fish is population pressure and large-scale use of pesticides

India to roll out $20 billion food welfare plan by December, The Times of India, 8 July 2015

India will roll out its multi-billion dollar food welfare plan by December, the food minister said, allowing 67 percent of its 1.2 billion people access to cheap rice and wheat.

Don't Disclose Results of KFC Food Samples: HC, The New Indian Express, The Times of India, 8 July 2015

The yderabad high court on Tuesday (7 July 2015) prohibited Commissioner of Food Safety of Telangana and Additional Commissioner of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation from disclosing results of food samples collected from KFC restaurants

The order was passed after Yum Restaurants India Pvt. Ltd. that owns KFC claimed that the food samples taken from the restaurant were taken against the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and that KFC’s image will be tarnished if results are released

FSSAI to review caffeine standards, The Asian Age, The Economic Times, Free Press Journal, 7 July 2015

A survey will be carried out by FSSAI to better understand the overall profile of consumers of caffeinated energy drinks

FSSAI has issued an Expression of Interest for market research companies to carry out the survey

Supreme Court issues notice to Centre on food safety, India Today, 7 July 2015

The Supreme Court on Monday has issued notices to the Centre and states on a public interest litigation seeking stringent norms to curb rampant food adulteration

The PIL also asserted the need for a special agency to take immediate action like searching, sealing and seizing products of violators

After Maggi, energy drinks, poultry products under lens, Deccan Herald, 6 July 2015

FSSAI is planning to conduct a survey on the consumption patterns of energy drinks by people in 15-45 age group

FSSAI is also looking at the meat and poultry industry, and is expected to introduce regulation on the usage of antibiotics in animal and poultry feed

All-round Trust Deficit Causes Food Poisoning, The Economic Times, 6 July 2015

Lack of consumer confidence has consequently affected demand for goods in the packaged food industry following the Maggi controversy

Sales of pasta have fallen by 10 per cent between May and June 2015, while growth rate of sales of packaged namkeen and western chips has halved to 8% in June, compared to 15% in May

Traders in smaller cities and rural markets are also worried about holding large stocks of processed foods.

Maggi row: Lawyer files case against Nestle, three cine stars, The Hindustan Times, 6 July 2015

Mahesh Bapu Gautam has filed a case against Nestle India Limited, its officials and cine stars Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Madhuri Dixit for publicizing the products of Nestle

The lawyer has alleged that the company has not complied with food safety norms. He has asserted that cine stars have criminal liability for publicizing harmful products

The court hearing has been fixed for July 14 but the court is yet to take cognizance of the matter


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