Business houses manufacturing or selling food items would have to register themselves with the health department under the Food Safety Act, 2011 by February 6 next year. Else, they might land up in jail or end up paying Rs 5 lakh as penalty.
The state health department issued the directive on Friday because few people involved in food business applied for registration or licence renewal since the act was enforced on August 4, 2011.
Ashish Kumar Singh, the designated officer of the food safety wing of the health department, said: “The Government of India formulated the act in 2006 and it was notified in 2011. Acts like prevention of food adulteration, 1954, fruits products order, 1955, milk and milk products order, 1992, meat food products order, 1973 and edible oils packaging (regulation) order, 1988 were repealed and it became mandatory for anybody involved in food business to procure licence from the health department under the act. They had to do it within a year but very few people in Bihar have come to us for licences.”
Taking the poor response into count, the health department on Friday extended the time period for registration or licence renewal by six months following a directive from the central government.
The order applies to all food sellers and manufacturers, including vendors with turnover less than Rs 12 lakh a year.
Those who have licence under various acts related to edible items have been asked to apply for renewal.
The licences would be issued by food safety inspectors at district-level and designated officers at division-level.
“The registration has been made mandatory to ensure that edible items reaching the consumers are being sold or manufactured by certified people. It will also help us keep a tab on the quality being offered to them,” Singh added.
Ironically, the department does not have the figures on how many food sellers or manufacturers are operating in the state.
Singh said it was very difficult to have a centralised data as only those who had earlier taken licence under different acts were registered with the department.
“We will conduct a survey to prepare a database of people and firms involved in food trade. The task will be enormous and it will take months,” Singh added.