The government will establish a self-regulation platform for food companies, retailers stocking packaged food and fastfood restaurant chains, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) chief executive Pawan Agarwal said. The move will help benchmark them against the best in class, thus raising standards and making companies mindful of rules and consumers.
Companies such as Hindustan Unilever, PepsiCo, Nestle, Parle Products, Danone, ITCBSE , Patanjali and Mondelez, retailers like Walmart and Future Group, Aditya Birla Retail and Spencer’s Retail and quick service restaurant (QSR) chains including KFC and McDonald’s will be put on an equal self-compliance footing under the plan.
“This will encourage healthy competition among companies, retailers and QSR chains and will be an open platform for consumers to see for themselves,” Agarwal told ET. “The companies will be ranked on basis of their declarations and the platform will also mention names of companies which haven’t shared the required information.”
FSSAI’s “food safety and shared responsibility” score will be a publicly accessible online platform for companies to rate themselves against parameters such as compliance with regulations, nutritive content, dealing with consumer grievances, upstream and downstream supply chain capacity and promoting food safety in schools. It’s been dubbed ReFoc for responsible food companies score.
Companies welcomed the move. Representatives of about 40 of them have been invited to provide feedback on the initiative.
“By engagement, sharing, cross-learning and healthy competition, we want to raise the bar not only for food safety but make foods businesses more responsive to consumers and government regulation,” Agarwal said. “As we move forward, we will make this matrix more robust.”
The regulator has invited the top 200 companies by sales to join the platform in the first phase of the self-regulation exercise. The FSSAI said it will make public names of companies that don’t want to participate.