FSSAI has instructed all state Food Safety Commissioners to ensure implementation and compliance with guidelines for investigating and controlling the outbreak of food-borne diseases in India under the Food Safety Emergency Response System.
“The Food Safety Commissioners are required to present the incidences and status of food-borne illness/outbreak in their states/UTs in the last quarter and action taken thereon in the meeting of the Central Advisory Committee under a standing agenda namely “the status of responses to a foodborne illness outbreak,” reads the direction issued by the FSSAI.
FSS Act, 2006, specifically mandates the Food Authority to search, collect, collate, analyze and summarise relevant scientific and technical data, particularly relating to the identification of emerging risks, and to introduce a rapid alert system. Accordingly, FSSAI has developed the “Framework of Food Safety Emergency Response (FSER) System” and “Guidelines for investigating and managing food-borne illness outbreaks in India”.
The framework of the FSER system will help the authority to focus on prevention and preparedness in response to a food-borne emergency.
According to the FSSAI, the FSER is a framework that aims at managing a potential or confirmed risk to public health arising from food through a timely and coordinated response to minimize any adverse impact on health and disruption to trade. Such planning also enables food safety authorities to focus on prevention and preparedness, rather than only on reaction to individual events and therefore has greater long-term sustainability.
Under the Framework, the FSSAI has defined food safety incidents, food safety emergencies, food safety emergency response, and foodborne outbreaks.
The structure of the FSER includes a National Emergency Contact Point (NECP) for coordination of national food safety emergency response and FSSAI will function as NECP, National Focal Points (NFPs): These are other national authorities who have a stake in food safety, and Food Safety Risk Assessment Committee (FSRAC): which is a risk assessment body and shall be responsible for providing technical and scientific support both in normal or emergencies including identifying the severity of the risk and Food Safety Coordination Committee (FSCC) for managing food safety emergencies in the country.