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Obtaining food license from FSSAI i.e. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is indispensable for every food business operator in India. However, renewal of such FSSAI license within the prescribed time is equally important, so that the food business operator is able to continue to operate the business legally and comply with the FSSAI regulations. Without the renewal of food license or FSSAI license before the expiry period mentioned in such license, a food business operator cannot be permitted to continue his business legally and without any sanction imposed on them by the authorities.
A registration or license granted as per the regulations of FSSAI is valid and subsisting, unless otherwise specified by the authority, for a period of 1 to 5 years from the date of issue of such registration or license. However, the term of such registration or license is subject to remittance of fee applicable for the period and compliance with all the conditions of license. The initial validity or the term of registration or license, as the case may be, varying from 1 to 5 years is chosen by the food business operators themselves and accordingly, the fee for the same is decided. Since the primary registration or license given to every food business operator is limited only to a number of years, every food business operator is required to renew its FSSAI registration or license before the expiry of the term of its registration or license in order to continue receiving the benefits of such license.
Any application for the renewal of a registration or license granted under the regulations must be made at least 30 days prior to the date of expiry mentioned in the current food license. And any renewal application filed beyond the above mentioned period but before the expiry date shall have to be accompanied by a late fee of rupees 100 per day of delay. In case a food business operator misses to apply for the renewal of its FSSAI or food license within the time of expiration of its license, the operator is required to apply for fresh FSSAI registration or license, as the case may be, if such operator wishes to continue its food business operations. Also, the registration or license shall continue to be in force till such time the orders are passed on the renewal application but that shall be in no case beyond 30 days from the date of expiry of registration or license.
The first and foremost step in the renewal of FSSAI license is to file Form A (in case of basic FSSAI registration) or Form B (in case of central or state FSSAI license) with the signatures of the authorized signatory. These are the basic forms consisting of the business activities of the food operator which are required to be filled along with the self-attested declaration that a food business operator is required to comply with the guidelines of the Food Safety and Standards Act. Besides, a photo identity proof such as Aadhaar Card, Driving License or Voter Identity Card is also required to be attached.
The application for renewal must be accompanied with an audit report or Food Safety Management System Plan, or Certificate regarding food safety management system has to be filed.
Form IX i.e. form of the nomination of persons by the company has to be filed in the prescribed format.
After receiving the application for FSSAI renewal along with all the necessary documents, the authorities would then examine the application and if necessary, could also arrange for an inspection at the premises of the food business operator in order to make sure that all the details provided regarding the particular food business are true and reliable, and all the information have been disclosed and submitted.
After a successful inspection of the business undertakings by the authorities, if they are satisfied, then they issue a license in favour of the food business operator.
It takes not more than 60 days for the food license to reach the food business operator. If more than 60 days have passed and the food business operator has not received the license, then it can resume its business without waiting for any further notice or communication on their part.
Food safety certification is a third-party verification which provides that products, processes or system in the food supply chain meet accepted food safety standards. It is based on the results of tests, inspection, and audit and gives confidence to the consumer because an organization’s product and/or system are being thoroughly evaluated against accepted national and international industry standards by a competent third body. It includes product certification and organizational certification.
The only criteria required to get the food safety certification is to be in the food chain. Getting the food safety certification is totally voluntary and there is no compulsion or legal requirement for a food sector business to get one. However, it has a strategic advantage in the marketplace since such a certification can represent a sign of high food quality and safety to consumers. Also, due to increasing awareness among the consumers, they are demanding an increase in food safety standards. Thus, those businesses which become certified to a particular food safety scheme will gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace over those businesses that do not have such food safety certification. Further, when it comes to employment, companies and organization prefer to hire those candidates who have a valid food safety certificate over those who don’t. The greatest advantage of having a food safety certificate is that it is assumed that the quality and the control on the food hazards are taken care of and the food produced by such an organization is safe to be consumed.
Certification of an organization as per the ISO 22000, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) or any other food safety standard is one of the means of assurance that the certified organisation has implemented the food safety management system and has complied with all the processes, activities, products and services in line with the organisation’s food safety policy and the requirements of ISO 22000. There are over 1000 food safety certifications given by different rating agencies, so it really depends upon what country you are in and what party you would like to receive it from. This certification ensures that you and your employees are at least having the basic knowledge of the cause of foodborne illness and its prevention.
However, unlike most qualifications, it is generally considered that a food safety certificate does not last forever and they need to be renewed. As earlier mentioned, there is no legal requirement for the renewal of a food safety certificate. However, employers must be able to show that their employees have been adequately trained, particularly in the event of something going wrong; which is why food safety certificates are generally accepted as mandatory by the food industry. And without an up-to-date food safety certificate, it is difficult to prove adequate training. Therefore, the renewal of such food safety certificate is also considered essential. As a general rule, the food industry standard requires the food safety certificate to be renewed every three years, and in some cases such as with high-risk employers – every single year. Renewing the food safety certificate is done by retaking a course and getting a new one which can even be taken online, quickly and easily, without any delay.
A food handler’s card is a document issued by a training entity in the form of a certificate or diploma which certifies that the person carrying the document has received a specific course in this area and has passed the test to demonstrate the required level of knowledge in the field of food safety. It is also known as a food worker card or permit in several countries.
A food handler i.e. a person who works with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or with any surface where people put unwrapped food, is required by law to take such a course in food handling either from the company for which they work or from any private training academies or public bodies. In short, if, in any direct or indirect way, a person is in contact with food at any time during its cycle – from the production of raw material to its arrival at the consumer – he or she must have the certificate of having received specific training on food handling i.e. the food handler’s card or certificate.
A food handler card is a permanent card obtained through training. Along with a food handler certification, a food handler card serves as proof of the food handler course completion during the inspection. The added employment benefits of possessing a food handler card are handy not just in the food and beverage industry, but also those relating to it. It enables one to work as a food handler in a food packaging and manufacturing environment and in similar food facilities as well as in the kitchens of restaurants and bars. Also, managers tend to favour hiring applicants with food handler cards rather than those who are non-card holders.
Renewing the food handler card is fundamental in order to be up to date and to avoid possible sanctions. Another reason is because the regulations are constantly changing and companies are increasingly demanding more training and less risk in their business. Although the deadline for its renewal has not been explicitly mentioned, that doesn’t mean that food handler card need not to be updated or renewed. Every professional should be up to date with regulatory changes and keep up to date with their training. If the card is not renewed, many of the new rules that a food handler needs to know, would not be known.
Companies have their own training programmes that are established on the basis of their general hygiene plans, quality control system or health documentation, in which the food handler certificates must be renewed, depending on the position occupied. Each company knows its needs and depending on the food risk of its activity, the deadlines are longer or shorter. That said, the most common deadlines are:
One year in the preparation and/or handling of food for high-risk people such as the sick, the elderly and the children in situation of special sensitivity.
Two years in high-risk activities such as community kitchens, with special sensitivity for school children and geriatrics, prepared food processing plants and fresh produce stores with handling and cutting.
Three years in hotels which serve more than 150 meals a day.
Four years in bars and restaurants.
Six years in packaged fruit/ vegetable food establishments.
Eight years in non-contact or non-handled food transportation.
For getting a food handler card renewed, one has to look for a training academy that offers the most confidence on the basis of its solvency, experience and solidity and follow the steps indicated. Normally, it can even be done online. The applicant only needs to update knowledge by redoing the food handler course and acquiring the new knowledge that has appeared since the last card was obtained or its last renewal. Once the knowledge is updated, the new food handler’s card or certificate is requested until the next renewal.
The responsibility for training in food handling lies with the companies themselves which must have the necessary knowledge about their staffs. And since workers constantly change their job, they are often asked to be able to demonstrate that they have been trained and have acquired the knowledge necessary for food handling to continue developing their profession regardless of where they have been trained. To prove this, a food handler’ certificate is required apart from having a food handler’s card.
A food handler’s certificate certifies that a person has acquired the necessary knowledge to be able to carry out his or her professional activity in contact with food to a greater or lesser extent, without having to undergo constant training and examination while changing jobs.
From the descriptions mentioned above regarding the renewal of FSSAI license or food license, we are now clear about the importance of renewal of such registration or license, which is no less than obtaining such license. Also, we now know how to renew the FSSAI license, food safety certificate and a food handler’s card.