Manmeet Singh Gill
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, November 23
Though the number of eligible food businesses requiring registration or licences under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) in the district is estimated to be over 50,000, only around 6000 have so far fulfilled the need in the past five years. However, soon the food operators might feel heat as the Health Department is planning to act tough to bring all food businesses under the ambit of the Act.
As per the figures procured from the district Health Department, at present only 2,493 food businesses have obtained licences under the FSSA while another 3,520 have obtained registration.
While the food businesses are reluctant to register or obtain licence for want of strict implementation, the Health Department has now decided to prosecute all such erring food businesses after December 1. Insiders stated that even those businesses, who obtained licences earlier but failed to get these renewed, were under the eye of the department.
“The department has been asking food businesses to fulfil the provisions of the Act for the last five years but businesses may have felt that not complying with the instructions will not invite any action,” said an official. He added that in absence of strict implementation, the basic idea of enacting the Act was getting defeated.
As per the Act, food businesses involved in any stage of food manufacturing, including packaging, catering, manufacturing, processing and transport, are required to register. The Act requires food businesses with over 12 lakh per annum turnover to obtain licence while those below the limit are required to get registered.
District Health Officer Dr Charanjit Singh said: “We will start filing prosecutions of violators under Section 61 and 63 of the Food Safety and Standards Act after December 1.” He said under Section 61, an operator could attract three months of imprisonment and a fine of Rs2 lakh. Under Section 63, an operator could be imprisoned for six months and a fine of Rs5 lakh could be imposed, said Dr Singh.
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