QUALITY STANDARDS

Compulsory Legislation for Quality Standards

Standards on Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977

These Rules laid down certain obligatory conditions for all commodities in the packed from with respect to their quantity declaration. These Rules are operated by the Directorate of Weights and Measures under the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies.

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954

The Act is the basic statute intended to protect the common consumer against supply of adulterated food and specifies different standards on various articles of food. The standards are of minimum quality level intended for ensuring safety in the consumption of these food items and for safeguarding against harmful impurities, adulteration etc.

The Central Committee for Food Standards under the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for operation of this Act. Provisions of the Act are mandatory and contravention of the Rules can lead to both fine and imprisonment.

Essential Commodities Act, 1954

A number of Control Orders have been formulated under the provisions of this Act, main objectives of which are to regulate manufacture, commerce and distribution of essential commodities including food. These orders include:

(a) Fruit Products Order, 1955

This order regulates manufacture and distribution of all fruit and vegetable products, sweetened aerated waters, vinegar and synthetic syrups.

Manufacture or relabelling of these products can be carried out only after obtaining a valid license from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

The license is issued only after the licensing officer is satisfied with regard to the quality of product, sanitation, personnel, machinery and equipment and work area standards.

(b) Solvent Extracted Oils, De-oiled meal and Edible Flour Control Order, 1967 and Vegetable Products Control Order, 1976.

These Orders control the production and distribution of solvent extracted oils, deoiled meal, edible flours and hydrogenated vegetable oils (Vanaspati).

Both the Orders are operated by the Directorate of Vanaspati, Vegetable Oils and Fast under the Department of Civil Supplies in the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies.

For production and distribution of the above products, a license is necessary from the Directorate, which is granted if the product conforms to the specification laid down in the Schedules. The Directorate also regulates the price of vanaspati under the Order.

(c) Meat Products Control Order, 1973

This Order regulates manufacture, quality and sale of all meat products and is operated by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection.

(d) Milk and Milk Product Order, 1992

This Order provides for setting up an advisory board to advise the Government on the production, sale, purchase and distribution of milk powder. Units with an installed capacity for handling milk of over 10,000 litres per day or milk products containing milk solids excess of 500 tonnes per years are required to obtain registration under this order from the Department of Animal Husbandry.

Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI)

The DMI enforces the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking). Act 1937. Under this Act, Grade Standards are prescribed for agricultural and allied commodities, which are known as 'Agmark' Standards. Grading under the provisions of this Act is voluntary. Manufactures who comply with standards laid down by DMI are allowed to put 'Agmark' labels on their products.

Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, 1963

The Export Inspection Council is responsible for operation of this Act under which a large number of exportable commodities have been notified for compulsory pre-shipment inspection.

The quality control and inspection of various export products is administered through a network of more than fifty offices located around the important production centres and ports of shipment. In addition, organizations may be recognized as agencies for inspection and/or quality control.

Recently, Government has exempted agriculture and food products, fruit products, fish and fishery products from compulsory pre-shipment inspection, provided the exporter has a firm letter from the overseas buyer stating that the overseas buyer does not want pre-shipment inspection from any official Indian Inspection Agencies.

Voluntary Standards

There are two organizations dealing with the voluntary standardization and certification systems in food. Bureau of Indian Standards looks after standardization of products and standardization of raw agricultural produce falls under the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection.

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

The activities of BIS are two fold; formulation of Indian Standards and their implementation by promotion and through voluntary and third party certification system.

BIS has on record, standards for most of the processed foods; these standards in general cover raw materials permitted and their quality parameters, hygienic conditions under which the product is manufactured and packaging and labeling requirements.

Manufacturers complying with the standards laid down by BIS can obtain an 'ISI' mark, which can be exhibited on their product packages. BIS has identified certain items like food colours/additives, vanaspati and containers for their packing, milk powder and condensed milk for compulsory certification.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) promotes formulation of Indian Standards particularly in identified thrust areas, introduction of standardisation and quality control in different sectors of economy, introduction of Certification Marks Scheme for different products, launching of quality system certification to help Indian industry build quality in their products and manage the quality systematically to boost exports, modernisation and upgradation of testings laboratories to increase their efficiency, creation of quality consciousness and furtherance of international cooperation.

BIS functions through a network of offices with its headquarters at New Delhi and 5 Regional Offices at Calcutta (Eastern), Madras (Southern), Bombay (Western), Chandigarh (Northern) and New Delhi (Central) and Branch Offices at Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Faridabad, Lucknow, Patna and Trivandrum which act as effective links between BIS and industry, Central and State Governments, consumer organisations and technical institutions.

BIS - Standardisation and Promotion Activities

BIS has been formulating Indian Standards in line with the national priorities on a time bound programme.

It has formulated over 15800 standards in fields of agriculture and food, chemicals and petrochemicals, electrical engineering, civil engineering, medical instruments and hospital planning, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, textiles and quality management.

Formulation of standards has been intensified in the areas of technological significance and affecting the quality of life of common man such as information technology, renewable energy sources, environmental protection and safety, dry land farming, low cost housing, rural water supply system, primary health etc.

For this purpose close linkages have been established with Government agencies, district industry centres, research institutes, industries and industry associations and consumer organisations.

BIS - Testing Laboratories

Testing forms the mainstay of certification and quality control. BIS has, therefore, established a network of laboratories.

It has a Central Laboratory at Sahibabad besides four regional laboratories at Bombay, Calcutta, Mohali, Madras and three branch laboratories at Patna, Bangalore, Guwahati and Gandhi Nagar.

Incentives to SSI Units acquiring ISO-9000 Certification

The Government have been considering a scheme to enhance the international competitiveness of the Small Scale Sector. As a step in that direction, Govt. is operating a scheme to provide incentives to those Small Scale Undertakings who acquire ISO-9000 Certification or its equivalent.

ISO9000 Series Standards