1. What is FSSAI?
  2. What was FSSAI created?
  3. Gutkha Issue: SC vs FSSAI
  4. Gutkha: Lack of Political will
  5. Issue of Surrogate Advertisement
  6. Food for thought by Ex-Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss
  7. Mock Q for UPSC GS Mains Paper 1

What is FSSAI?

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
  • has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

What was FSSAI created?

  • FSSAI has been created for laying down standards for food products.
  • To regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
  • It falls under the purview of Health Ministry.

Gutkha Issue: SC vs FSSAI

  • 2010: Supreme Court ordered a ban on the sale of tobacco products like gutkha and pan masala in plastic pouches from March 2011
  • SC had observed that since pan masala, gutkha or supari are eaten for taste and nourishment, they are all food within the meaning of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
  • Health ministry wants FSSAI to lay down about what levels of tobacco that would be “safe” in such products.
  • But FSSAI says that no food item can contain a harmful substance like tobacco so there is no question of setting down “permissible standards of tobacco” in gutkha. Such products must be totally banned.

Shammi Kapoor says He doesn’t want Dowry for his Son’s wedding but the “Baraatis” (guests) must be welcomed with truckload of Pan Parag Pan Masala. It doesn’t matter if there is no soup, salad, dal-roti, chaawal or ice-cream.

Gutkha: Lack of Political will

  • Gutkha is believed responsible for 90 per cent of oral cancers in India; plays a role in cancers of the stomach, food pipe and urinary bladder.
  • The industry is worth an estimated Rs 8,000 crore.
  • A powerful political lobby backs the Gutkha industry, which employs many people in rural areas, and therefore a ban cannot be implemented countrywide.
  • It is very difficult to bring all states on the same page on a gutkha ban because of the political lobby
  • Madhya Pradesh was the first state to ban gutkha but there is no change in availability. Supply from Uttar Pradesh is being routed there and a Rs 2 sachet now sells for Rs 10. (Smuggling) That is not a solution.

Issue of Surrogate Advertisement

Cable Television Network Act completely prohibits cigarette and alcohol advertisements.

But the alcohol and tobacco companies found a loophole: Surrogate advertisement. Most of the large players adapted quickly to introducing what are termed as complimentary products which fell outside the ambit of the Government’s regulation.

For example:

  1. Royal stag: originally a whiskey company, but casting SRK and Bhajji for the soda and music CD ads “Have i made it large“.
  2. Kingfisher (originally a beer manufacturing company) started selling Soda, Water and Calendar’s – for brand advertisement. Because that doesn’t fall under the ban.
  3. Bagpiper: Water and Soda, Cassettes and Compact discs. (Recall the ads of Akshay Kumar: aap mein aur bagpiper club soda).
  4. Bacardi:Cassettes and Compact discs
  5. Goa Gutkha, Pan Parag etc: started giving ads of Pan Masala. Because Pan Masala doesn’t contain tobacco hence out of the advertisement ban.

Surrogacy in advertising by Alcohol and Tobacco companies, continues in the absence of a strong code by the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India).

Food for thought by Ex-Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss

  • Tobacco industry directly pay cinema stars to smoke in films. When millions of people give polio drops to their children inspired by Amitabh Bachchan’s appeal, the impact of smoking scenes is not difficult to imagine.
  • 76% of the 800-900 movies made in India had smoking scenes.
  • British medical journal Lancet to claim that 52 per cent of children take to smoking due to movies and that smoking on screen was 16% more effective than direct tobacco advertisements.
  • There was an outrage in the US Congress in the 70s over alleged direct payment to Hollywood stars by the tobacco industry to glamorise smoking.
  • 40% of health-related problems — from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, kidney ailments, skin allergy, lung problems to miscarriages — are caused by smoking.

Mock Q for UPSC GS Mains Paper 1

What are the functions of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
12 marks : 120 words.

  1. lay down the Standards and guidelines in relation to articles of food and specifying appropriate system of enforcing various standards
  2. accreditation of food testing laboratories
  3. provide scientific advice and technical support to Central Government and State Governments in the matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing of food safety and nutrition .
  4. Collect data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food
  5. Create  information network across the country so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc receive rapid, reliable and objective information about food safety and issues of concern.
  6. Provide training programmes for persons who are involved or intend to get involved in food businesses.
  7. Promote general awareness about food safety and food standards.


  1. IndianExpress: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gutkha-provides-govt-with-food-for-thought/972218/