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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BIS working on standards for edible oil, soon to be ISI-marked product

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is currently working on a set of standards for edible oil, which, as stated by Sunil Soni, its director general, are ready. As soon as the final draft of the standards for the same is released, the certification of the product would begin. “Edible oil would shortly be an ISI-marked product,” he informed.

Soni added, “A meeting with the stakeholders on the transition methods is slated to be held next month. Not only would the regulations and implementation time frame for the same be discussed, but a roadmap (which would be decided by the transition methods) would also be drawn up for the implementation of the edible oil standards.”

At the meeting, the stakeholders would put forth their concerns, because the director general said that BIS wanted a smooth transition. The standards would be applicable to the entire range of packaged edible oil sold at retail outlets across the India.

They would be accepted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is working on them with BIS. The former would use the standards to ensure food safety.

Soni informed that BIS was in continuous in talks with the country’s apex food regulator, adding that in addition to high-level coordination meetings, they were a part of a working group for oil standards.

It has been done to avoid overlapping and copying of standards by the various agencies working to ensure food safety. In the past, edible oil standards were a part of the AGMARK portfolio. But AGMARK has withdrawn itself from framing standards for manufactured agri products to focus solely on raw products.

BIS has standards ready for street foods and tap water as well. It would write to the Urban Development Department to ask local bodies to ensure the implementation of the standards for the latter. As for the former, each state’s food safety department would be the implementing authority.

However, it has been proposed that the standards, which are fairly high, would be implemented in phases, with levels one, two and so on. 


TDB bid to keep Appam and Aravana safe

Appam and Aravana to be sold from the Sabarimala temple would adhere to food safety measures, including Good Manufacturing Practises (GMP) soon.
Besides putting in place the GMP, it has been proposed to introduce Hazard Analysis at Critical Control Points (HACCP) at Sabarimala. The Centre for Food Research and Development (CFRD), Konni, has drawn up food safety plans for the hill shrine, which is visited by thousands of devotees each season.
The effective implementation of the food safety measures would go a long way in eliminating possibilities of food contamination in Appam and Aravana and at Annadanam, free food offered to the devotees.
The food safety systems could be made operational within a fortnight on order from the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), said M.K. Mukundan, CFRD director.
P. Venugopal, TDB Commissioner, conceded that there were complaints of poor quality of Appam and Aravana sold from the temple. It was following these complaints that the board decided to assign the job of ensuring food safety measures to the CFRD. The system would be in place during the forthcoming pilgrim season.
Health card
The CFRD will check the samples of raw materials brought to the temple for preparing the sacred offering. Sanitary surveys would also be carried out. A health card for workers engaged for the preparation of the offerings would be prepared to ensure that the health and hygiene parameters are not compromised. Swabs would be taken from the workers to test them for contagious diseases, Dr. Mukundan said.