FSSAI’s FoSCoS – Strengthening Food Safety Compliance in India
FSSAI recently launched cloud-based online food compliance system called Food Safety Compliance System (FoSCoS) on June 3, 2020. The FoSCoS offers licensing, registration, inspection and annual return modules for food business operators (FBO’s). It is a one-point stop for any regulatory compliance transaction for all FBO’s. It is an enhanced version of Food Licensing and Registration System (FLRS) launched in 2012. FSSAI issues 70 lakh licenses/registration till date. FoSCoS is integrated with FSSAI’s other existing IT platforms such as Food Safety Compliance through Regular Inspection and Sampling (FoSCoRIS), Food Safety Connect-Complaints Management System, Online Annual Return platform, Food Import Clearing System (FICS), Indian Food Laboratory Network (InFoLNet), Audit Management System (AMS), adjudications and penalties, Food Safety Training and Certification (FoSTaC), Food Safety Mitra (FSM) etc. Through the integration of FoSCoS with FoSCoRIS, FBO’s can have access to inspection reports. FoSCoS provides online features for filling annual return as compared to the FLRS. The Text Box approach for licensing in the FLRS is upgraded to Standardized Product approach for manufacturers in the FoSCoS. In addition, the new system provides a clear segregation of Kind of business (KoBs) in the FoSCoS application. For e.g. nutraceuticals and novel food category has been added as a separate category of business under manufacturing. Earlier in 2017, FSSAI issued FoSCoRIS system with a motive to ease the food compliance process by removing the process of sample collection and making it more transparent and traceable. The FoSCoRIS system brought together FBO, Food safety officers (FSO), designated officers (DO), food safety commissioners on one nationwide IT platform related to food sampling, inspection and licensing. This platform has increased the effectiveness of food safety compliance in the country as well as enhance the efficiency of FSO and DO. The digital platform helps monitor every inspection on a real-time basis and afterward as well. The application is much-simplified version compared to the earlier one and gives commodity-specific data. It is compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Training for FSO and DO are required for the use of the FoSCoRIS platform. The application presents data in a user-friendly manner. It operates in two-fold manner: (i) it supports the management of the day to day inspection and sampling by FSO and DO and (ii) provides public access. The total number of licensed FBO’s, active FSO and DO’s, number of compliance and non-compliance segment-wise data of central, state and district level FBO’s can be accessed through the system. As compared to the offline inspection for granting the license, the FoSCoRIS system is tighter since more number of parameters are included in this system during inspection. FSO and DO are required to inspect the premises in person while they can generate real-time data and report through this system.
The recent introduction of FoSCoS helps to build a transparent food safety compliance system. It also assists in food recall due to non-compliance at any point in time based on inspection data. India food safety surveillance system is converging to risk-based inspection system. In 2019, FSSAI mandated the food safety audit of food business holding a central license and falling under high-risk category of food business: Dairy products and analogues, excluding products of category 2.0, meat and meat products including poultry, fish and fish products, egg and egg products, food for infant nutrition, and prepared foods (including catering, etc).
To strengthen the food safety surveillance system, FSSAI has envisaged audits of FBOs through private auditing agencies. However, this third party audit is performed in a different way than FoSCoRIS and is conducted offline. The private auditing agencies cannot perform the inspection for granting licenses to the FBO but can facilitate the regular audit. Also, the audit agencies are not authorized to give any certification to the FBO. The certificate is provided by the FSSAI after the submission and compliance level of the audit report by the agency. A total of 24 private third party audit agencies are approved by FSSAI for conducting a food safety audit of food premises; and this reduces the inspections conducted by Central or State Licensing Authorities. The audit agency generates and submits the audit report to the Central or State Licensing Authority within fifteen days. If there is a serious failure in the food safety management system of the FBO, which may result in adverse health consequences possibly even fatalities, the audit agency is required to report to central or state licensing authority within 24 hours for regulatory action.
The introduction of this platform will enable pan India integrated response system to any food safety risk /fraud through its real time transparent data system. This will also ensure an advanced risk based, data driven regulatory approach.
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