Friday, October 31, 2008

BIS quality standards important for processed food

There are two organisations, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI), currently dealing with the voluntary standardisation and certification systems in the food sector in India. The activities of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) are two fold - formulation of Indian Standards in the processed food sector and their implementation by promotion and through voluntary and third party certification system. The Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI) enforces the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act 1937. Under this Act, Grade Standards are prescribed for agricultural and allied commodities which are known as 'Agmark' Standards.
According to industry sources, for the processed food sector BIS certification is more important than DMI certification.
BIS has on record, standards for most of the processed foods. These standards in general cover raw materials permitted and their quality parameters, hygienic conditions under which the product is manufactured and packaging and labelling requirements. Manufacturers complying with the standards laid down by BIS can obtain an ISI mark which can be exhibited on their product packages. BIS has identified certain items like food colours/additives, vanaspati and containers for their packing, milk powder and condensed milk for compulsory certification. According to sources, BIS empowered through a legislative Act of the Indian Parliament known as the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986, operates a product certification scheme. The product certification scheme is basically voluntary and aims at providing quality, safety and dependability to the ultimate customer. Presence of certification mark known as Standard Mark on a product is an assurance of conformity to the specifications. The conformity is ensured by regular surveillance of the licensee's performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn both from the factory and the market. BIS has granted more than 30,000 licences to manufacturers covering practically every industrial discipline. The certification allows the licensees to use the popular ISI Mark, which has become synonymous with quality products for the Indian and neighbouring markets over the past more than 40 years.

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