In 1970s and 80s, Indian Government was promoting AGMARK or Agricultural Mark certification on Prasar Bharti (Doordarshan). An attempt was made to create awareness among general masses about the use of certification for many agricultural products, for example Mustard Oil, vegetables, refined Oil, Milk etc. Nowadays, the same is happening with FSSAI or Food Safety & Standards Authority of India. Public is casually using FSSAI and AGMARK as if these two are the same thing. It is very important to know about these certifications and their implications from a consumer’s perspective.
In the year 2011, FSSAI was created by an Act of Parliament for the regulation of food quality and safety. There have been numerous earlier laws and acts to regulate food safety. The major laws that existed prior to Food Safety & Standards Act 2006 (FSS Act 2006) were Vegetable Oil Products Order 1947, Food Adulteration Act 1954, Meat Products Order 1973, Fruit Products Order 1955 and Milk Products Order 1992. All the important aspects of these laws have been included in the FSS Act 2006 and some changes have been made keeping the progress in times.
Today, all Indian Citizens involved in the manufacture, storage, distribution, imports and sale of food productsrequire an FSSAI Certification/License to conduct his commercial activities.
Agricultural Mark which is commonly known as AGMARK was issued by Directorate of Marketing and Inspection for agricultural produce. This Certification ensured the proper implementation ofthe Agricultural Produce Grading and Marking Act 1986. An individual who is selling fruits, rice, milk, pulses, etc. needs to acquire an AGMARK Certification, which certify that the limit of pesticides in these products is within the limit set by the Government.
FSSAI and AGMARK are two different certification bodies and differ in following ways.
AGMARK is a mark provided to the agricultural products in compliance with Agricultural Products Act, 1986 while FSSAI is an agency that comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and it covers all the food articles.
AGMARK is issued only for the agricultural-based products certifying their quality as per the Directorate of Marketing & Inspection, Government of India. FSSAI is a regulatory and supervising agency that regulates food business and its functions and operations in India. It is also mandated to monitor and promote public health awareness. All food business distributors, operators, storage houses, and retailers need an FSSAI license.
AGMARK was the executive agency for the Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marking) Act of India, 1937 which was amended in the year 1986. FSSAI came into existence as an executive agency to enforce the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.
The quality guidelines of more than 200 agricultural products are covered under AGMARK that includes pulses, rice, fresh fruits, and more. Agricultural policies are implemented by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation. This department is a part of Directorate of Marketing & Inspection. It also trains people in the field of agriculture, promotes excellent storage practices, implements agricultural reforms, and makes people aware of them. While FSSAI is mandated to implement scientifically derived processes and standards for a variety of food products. This agency also regulates other aspects of the food business such as storing, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and developing sanitary standardsfor the factory environment. FSSAI is to make planned and budgeted attempts make the consumer aware of these standards.
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