On the order given to it by the Madras High Court, FSSAI has begun working on the regulations of Sago and the testing methodology of the same. As per the ruling, the apex regulator is to streamline all the regulations regarding sago within a maximum period of 2 months.
As per records, the petition had been filed by Kalkurichi Vellalapatti Vevasaikal Munnatra Sungam, a body residing in the district of Namakkal, in Tamil Nadu. The petition had been made against the sago which was being chemically processed and being circulated across the country.
The body’s secretary, R Chandrasekharan, stated that the concerned authority shall finalize the procedure of analysis later, at the time when the manual is released with the microbiological analysis and testing of food and a simultaneously government order on 16 January, 2017.
The draft regulations issued by the FSSAI in terms of the method of analysis stated,
The method of analysis will be mentioned within the relevant FSSAI Manual under Manual of Analysis of Food.
The Madras High Court criticized FSSAI for pleading an 18 months period of time to streamline the testing methodology and standards for sago. The court held the safety of the consumers to be at stake and thus, such a long time frame could not be granted to the regulator.
As directed by the Madras High Court, FSSAI issued the draft standards for sago or tapioca. A major part that deals with testing is absent in the draft issued by FSSAI. The method of analysis for sago is missing as well.
Moving further he added that the paramount concern was to finalize the particular tests required to ascertain the safety parameters which would make sure that the sago is safe. As per his words, they will plead the court that each and every state having testing labs must work to establish the testing parameters and arrive at conclusions within a given time-frame. These parameters shall then be analyzed and only the conclusive parameters shall be adopted as the final ones.
Old Sago Stocks
There are stocks of sago which are yet not being tested and are under circulation within the market.
Even the old stocks of sago that are worth about Rs. 15 Lakh require to be addressed. There is an urgency to ensure that the sago in circulation within the markets is tested, before allowing further sales of the same.
Earlier this year in June, several stocks of sago were captured, which were already in circulation, by the Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department. The officials have been on the vigil ever since to identify such stocks.
Speeding Up the Law Infrastructure
FSSAI has come out to prescribe new norms for sago in a draft issued recently. The draft in the regulation for stated that it should be free from live and dead insects, insect infestation, dirt, added coloring matter, whitening agents, sweetening agents, extraneous matter, visible mold growth, optical whiteners, bleaching, or any other adulterant.
In a bit to address the discontent, FSSAI recently released a draft on fixing the limit of hydrocyanic acid under the Food Safety and Standards [Contaminants, Residues, and Toxins] Regulations, 2011.
The regulations related to the naturally occurring toxic substances and crop contaminants under the draft state that tapioca flour, sago, manihot flour, and cassava flour and their products could have HCN up to only 10 ppm.
With all the rulings by the Madras High Court, it is now to see whether FSSAI comes up with the final regulations in this regard or not. Meanwhile, it has absolutely cleared its motto with its drafts issued for stakeholders’ comments which say a period of 30 days. It passed a message that the regulator was in an absolute hurry to streamline the regulations respecting the court’s orders. The coming hearing shall be held on 24 January, 2017.
[Image Source: Food Fortification]