With the advancement of technology and the society using the same, the FSSAI being the apex food regulator in India has also expanded its ambit to include the e-commerce food applications. This sector includes applications such as Swiggy, Zomato, Uber eats, food panda and online grocers such as big basket etc.
Over the years the food industry has grown tremendously online and it was high time to ensure that these online vendors do comply with the FSSAI rules and regulations. As these applications operate on a huge scale it becomes very complex for ensuring whether they are in compliances with the FSSAI.
The FSSAI has suo moto acknowledged in 2018 that online platforms often list a large amount of such restaurants which do not have a valid registration under FSSAI. The guidelines for E-commerce business operators as laid down by the FSSAI are mainly divided into two categories which are as follows: –
- Market Based: – Those activities in which there is a link between the buyer and the seller created with the use of an online platform for networking is known as market based model of e-commerce.
- Inventory Based: – It refers to that type of an activity where food products and services are owned by a FBO and is directly sold to consumers.
This brings us to the question as to what or who is an FBO?
The term FBO is an abbreviated form which originally stands for food business operator. The food business operator consists of entities such as manufacturers, suppliers, restaurants etc.The FBO’S have a large number of responsibilitiesfor achieving the quality and hygiene so as to be maintain the safety of food of their businesses.
Below are the guidelines which FSSAI wants the e-commerce companies which deal with food to follow sincerely: –
- As per the new guidelines the food can be checked at any point from where its cooked to where its being delivered.
- It has become compulsory for the e-commerce websites to add images which are indicative so as to let the consumers identify the food that they are ordering.
- All the essential and important information as mentioned under the FSSAI act needs to be mentioned on the website.
- The restaurants are only allowed to deliver fresh food which have a satisfactory if not a lengthy shelf life.
- The food should only be delivered by a trained person. (Delivery boys should be trained).
- The food should be handled with outmost care from cooking till the delivery.
The regulation of FSSAI on licensing and registration of Food Business makes it compulsory for all the FBO’s who are covered in the First Schedule to obtain a license for the purposes of conducting their business.
These licenses are issued by Central Licensing Authority. FBO’s that list products and services however do not fall under this ambit but they are subject to a disclaimer that if any violation of food safety and standards arises then the sellers or manufacturers or as the case may be shall be held responsible and not them.
The FBO’s who are involved in selling pre-packed food to customers either on the market based platform or inventory based platform require commitment towards the following guidelines:
- Provide an image which makes certain the product that is to be sold via FBO platform.
- Clearly mention the FSSAI License and the registration number of the platform from where the business is conducted.
- Any other information related to the product or services shall also be made available.
- FBO shall comply with the food safety and standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses], regulations 2011 so as to achieve and maintain a basic level of hygiene.
Due to the enhancement of consumer awareness, directions to FBO’s are provided by FSSAI to establish a complaint redressal mechanism. FSSAI has firmly stated that redressal of complaints by the consumers must be settled within a specified time frame by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.