FSSAI extends compliance time for warning statements on 'Pan Masala'

FSSAI extends compliance time for warning statements on 'Pan Masala'
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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a series of directives pertaining to the compliance timelines for warning statements on 'Pan Masala' products, as specified in the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Second Amendment Regulations, 2022. The most recent update, dated 7 December 2023, highlights the extension of the time period for compliance, bringing several considerations and implications for the food industry.

The initial direction dated 22 May 2023 issued vide F.No. REG-17/1/2023- Regulation-FSSAI deferred the enforcement of the warning statement for 'Pan Masala'—stipulating that it must cover 50% of the front-of-pack label—for a period of three months from the date of enforcement, starting from 1 May 2023. Subsequently, the enforcement was further deferred for an additional three months from 1 August 2023, as per the directive dated 1 August 2023 vide direction number F. No. REG-17/1/2023-Regulation-FSSAI dated 01.08.2023.

In response to these directives, the FSSAI received representations from various associations, federations, and industries. The primary request was an extension of the time-period for compliance to allow businesses to utilize or exhaust existing packaging material inventory. Recognizing the practical challenges faced by the industry, the FSSAI considered these representations.

After careful deliberation, the FSSAI has decided to grant a further extension for the compliance of the warning statement provision. The enforcement of the 'Note' for 'Pan Masala' is now deferred for a period of six months from 1 November 2023. This extension is aimed at providing businesses with additional time to transition to the new labeling requirements and make necessary adjustments to their packaging processes.

The issued directives have received approval from the Competent Authority, exercising powers conferred under Section 16 (5) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. These measures reflect the FSSAI's commitment to balancing regulatory requirements with the practical considerations faced by the food industry.

Implications for the industry

The extended compliance period is expected to offer relief to manufacturers, allowing them to manage their existing inventory effectively and implement changes without undue haste. This additional time may also enable businesses to strategize and plan for the shift in labeling requirements, ensuring a smooth transition.

The FSSAI's decision to extend the compliance period for warning statements on 'Pan Masala' demonstrates a responsive and pragmatic approach to the challenges faced by the food industry. As businesses work towards aligning with the new regulations, it is essential for them to use this extended period wisely, ensuring a seamless transition while prioritizing consumer safety and regulatory compliance. The industry, regulators, and associations must collaborate effectively to foster a culture of transparency, responsibility, and adherence to food safety standards.

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