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02 October Current Affairs

Sweet sellers need to display ‘best before date’ from 1 October, orders FSSAI

In News:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released guidelines on sale of loose sweets.

As per the new guidelines:

In case of non-packaged/ loose sweets, the container/tray holding sweets at the outlet for sale should display the ‘Best Before Date’ of the product mandatorily with effect from October 1, 2020.

The food business operators (FBOs) might also display the date of manufacturing. It is not mandatory however.

The FBOs shall decide and display the ‘Best Before Date’ of sweets depending on the nature of the products and the local conditions.

Food safety commissioners should ensure compliance.

Significance:

The decision was based on various complaints about the quality and adulteration of sweets, mostly during festive season.

This regulation will help to ensure that the consumers are purchasing fresh products.

About the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

It is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the administrative Ministry of FSSAI.

FSS Act, 2006 consolidates various acts & orders that had earlier handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments, such as–

  • Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
  • Fruit Products Order, 1955
  • Meat Food Products Order, 1973
  • Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947
  • Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988
  • Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992

Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP)

In News:

The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Health Care has expressed disappointment over the recent reply of Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Sadanada Gowda, in Parliament that there is no decision yet to make the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) mandatory.

What’s the demand now?

The alliance has said that UCPMP should be made mandatory to bring fairness in marketing of the drugs as the industry has failed to comply with the code on a voluntary basis.

What is UCPMP Code?

It is a voluntary code issued by the Department Of Pharmaceuticals relating to marketing practices for Indian Pharmaceutical Companies and as well medical devices industry. Applicability: At present, the UCPMP Code is applicable on Pharmaceutical Companies, Medical Representatives, Agents of Pharmaceutical Companies such as Distributors, Wholesalers, Retailers, and Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Associations.

Key features and provisions:

No gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplied, offered or promised, to persons qualified to prescribe or supply drugs, by a pharmaceutical company or any of its agents.

As regards travel facilities, the UCPMP Code prohibits extending travel facility inside the country or outside, including rail, air, ship, cruise tickets, paid vacations, etc., to HealthCare Professionals and their family members for vacation or for attending conference.

The Code also provides that free samples of drugs shall not be supplied to any person who is not qualified to prescribe such product.

The 3 Farmers Bills And The Controversies Surrounding them

In News:

Farmers in many states are protesting against three recent bills passed by the Parliament.

The controversy pertains to:

  • ‘Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020′
  • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020′ and
  • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.

General concerns and criticisms:

These bills are anti-farmer and will only result in reduced crop prices for farmers and undermine seed security even further.

Food security will be eroded as government intervention is eliminated.

These bills promote corporate control of the Indian food and farming systems.

They will also encourage hoarding and black marketing, in addition to exploitation of farmers.

The bills also lack any assurance about Minimum Support Price(MSP).

Let us now take up one by one;

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020:

Key provision: It allows for regulating the supply and stock limit of certain specified agricultural produce under extraordinary circumstances such as an extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature, etc.

Issues:

Any action on imposing stock limits will be based on the price trigger.

In case of horticultural produce, a 100 per cent increase in the retail price of the commodity over the immediately preceding 12 months or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower, will be the trigger for invoking the stock limit for such commodities.

For non-perishable agricultural foodstuffs, the price trigger will be a 50 per cent increase in the retail price of the commodity over the immediately preceding 12 months or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower.

This stock limit regulation will not be applicable for value chain participants of any agricultural produce if their stock limit remains within their installed capacity.

It will also not apply to exporters if they can show demand for export.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, 2020:

Key provisions:

The Bill, through Clauses 3 & 4, gives freedom to the farmer to indulge in intra-state or inter-state trade in areas outside the APMC mandis.

It also prohibits the collection of any market fee or cess under the state APMC Acts with respect to such trade outside the APMC market yards (Clause 6).

A key provision of the Bill is Clause 14, which gives it an overriding effect over the inconsistent provisions of the State APMC Acts.

Also, the Central Government has been given powers to frame rules and regulations under the Act.

Issues:

This leads to a situation where local farmers do not find adequate demand for their produce at MSP in the local market.

Since most farmers are small or marginal landowners, they do not have wherewithal to transport their produce to large distances.

Hence, they are forced to sell them at a lower price than the MSP in the local market itself.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020:

Key provision: It seeks to create a legal framework for contract farming in India.

There are two broader concerns here:

First, one principle concern with contract farming has been regarding the negotiating power of the two parties involved. It seems likely that individual farmers might not find themselves equipped or powerful enough to negotiate with corporates or big-pocket sponsors to ensure a fair price for their produce.

Second, the Bill says that the quality parameters can be mutually decided by the two parties in the agreement. But the quality aspect will become crucial when a few corporates will try to usher in uniformity which might end up adversely impacting the already skewed agro-ecological diversity in the country.