Food Safety and Pricing Issues in Indiaby Udit Jain on June 20, 2007
Food Safety and Pricing Issues
To ensure a strong presence in global markets, India needs to meet international standards in food safety. The increase in world food trade and the advent of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO) have also raised interest in food safety requirements. The Government has put more stringent food safety and public health measures on manufacturing, storing and packaging of foodstuffs. The Codex, HACCP (The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and food-hygiene standards have been adopted by the Bureau of Indian Standards, the national standards body in India. Food processing units are being encouraged to adopt these systems on a voluntary basis.
There are extensive controls on packaging, labeling and certification. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) maintains a list of over 17,000 product standards of which only around 3,700 are in line with international norms. BIS health and safety certification marks are obligatory for certain food products. Price controls have been progressively liberalized since 1992, but a small number of items covered by the Essential Commodities Act 1955 remain fully controlled, including coal and petroleum products. Sugar and some foods such as cereals are partly controlled; prices of kerosene and liquid petroleum gas are subsidized by central government. Most packaged goods and all imported goods must carry maximum price tags. In general, prices not controlled by central government can only be limited to a maximum price; minimum price maintenance is not permitted.