Are you a home chef selling food to COVID hit families? Know the law.
With every passing day India is seing itself grappling under the tightening knots of this mutant virus. Covid hit families are finding it difficult to cope with the disease, the stress and the isolation. Many families are now opting for cheap home-cooked meals, delivered to their doorsteps. As such, a lot of home chefs with make-shift kitchens have come to the fore as helping hands.
However, selling home cooked food regardless of your business intentions brings you under the four corners of law. As of December, 2020 the food regulating authority of India updated its rules making it mandatory for all home chefs and home cooks selling home-cooked food or operating food business from home to register themselves with the FSSAI or apply for a licence.
What is FSSAI?
FSSAI is the regulating authority that regulates all food business manufacturers and operators in India.
But I am just a home chef, trying to help families in COVID. Do I need to register with FSSAI?
Even if you are home-chef and you are just cooking and selling home-cooked meals, it does bring you under the legal requirements of the food law. The law requires that petty food manufacturers who manufactures or sells any article of food himself or distributes foods with an annual turnover not exceeding ₹ 12 lakhs must get registered with the FSSAI.
What is the registration process?
Every Petty food manufacturer/food business operator is mandatorily required to register with FSSAI by submitting an application in FORM A along with a fee of Rs. 100/-
Before you apply, ensure that you have read and are following the basic hygiene and safety requirements. This is important because you will be required to also provide a self-attested declaration along with the application, saying that you are adhering with the safety and hygeine requirements as prescribed by the law. In the event, a food inspection officer decides to inspect your establishment, you wouldn’t want any irregularities.
The process of registration has been very elaborately explained by FSSAI in the diagram below.
Once the regulating authority finds your application and details provided in order, you will be issued a registration certificate. According to the period you choose when applying, the registration will be valid for a period ranging from 1–5 years.
So if you are not sure of your business yet, or if it is just a makeshift kitchen specifically to cater to covid families, you can choose a 1 year registration and subsequently renew it accordingly. Make sure your application for renewal is not later than 30 days prior to the expiry of your original registration certificate date.
In case you wish to make any changes with your food business, it is pertinent that it reflects in your registration certificate. Your original certificate will require an approval or endorsement by the authority before you start with the business changes. In order to that, you will have to submit your original registration with one year’s fee so as to effectuate the necessary changes.
What are the documents required for registration?
Following are the documents you will need to keep handy when you are registering with FSSAI
- Photo ID
- Document of Identity Proof
- Self-Attested Declaration Form
What happens if i don’t register my business?
Well, if you don’t register your business, depending upon the scale you are operating and if any report is filed against you, you will be liable to inspection and a subsequent fine by the food safety authorities if you fail to comply. If you fail to obtain a license or registration, you can be subject to fine which can go up to 5 lakhs and in some cases imprisonment, depending on the nature of the offense. Therefore, it is prudent that you register your business.
While the idea of government behind having small business operators to register is to ensure that manufacturers are responsible for the quality of water and materials they are putting in the food. In a way it also gives a sense of relief to your customers, should they ever raise concerns or doubts on the quality and standards of a new home kitchen in the vicinity.
What are other home-chef’s saying?
“I think it helps us scale up our businesses more easily and will allow us to get on to food delivery platforms. Besides this, it will help many people in the field improve their hygiene,” says home-baker Saranya Balu of Happy Jar.
“The term ‘home chef’ sounds nice, but there is no way of verifying whether the food was cooked at home, on a footpath or at the side of a road next to an open drain,” says Sanjay Kumar, CEO, Elior India.
““I work on orders, most of which come from my neighbourhood. They all know me. There is no point in spending beforehand. Anyways, no customer asks us for the certificate,” says Sinduja, a home chef from Sector 45, Noida
“Customers ordering on digital platforms have no way of knowing whether the kitchen in which their food is being cooked is following safety precautions because they are neither audited nor inspected by any outside agency,” says Sanjay Kumar, CEO, Elior India.
-sourced from IndianExpress
While home-chefs may be divided on the manadatory registration, it cannot be denied that the pandemic has raised safety and hygiene concerns for a lot of consumers. According to a report in The Times of India, only 2300 new registration applications have been received since March, 2021. In order to cater to the rising demand for home-delivered food amidst this second surge of COVID, many are turning to online catering and food delivery. As a business operator and as a concerned citizen it may be wise to get your business registered, if not done yet!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.