Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Co-existence of small and big is always fraught with many problems and same is true with regard to food manufacturing also. Invariably all rules and regulations by the governments world over are framed keeping in mind the operations of big industries which are visible while small players and micro-enterprises are put into lot of difficulties in conforming to state laws which are too stringent for their liking. Take the case of HACCP which is practically becoming mandatory in many countries to make sure foods manufactured are safe for consumers. How many cottage industry players can implement this scheme with their meager resources? The policy makers in a dilemma regarding this Hobson's choice and probably end up having dual approaches for these two different sectors. Here is an example of a strategy adopted in the US in some states.

"The legislation will allow anyone who makes less than $15,000 annually selling "non-potentially hazardous food" — such as jam, jelly and pies — to prepare the items in a home kitchen and sell them at roadside stands and farmers markets. It also spells out what can't be sold — items such as milk, milk products, meats, acidic foods or foods requiring temperature control. The legislation requires no licensing and no health department inspections. However, labels must contain the same information as they do now: ingredients, allergen information, product name, net weight and the name of the responsible party or vendor. Labels also must carry a disclaimer: "Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture ." Prior to the legislation, products had to be prepared in a licensed, commercial kitchen with specific equipment and meet a detailed list of requirements, said Kevin Halfmann, a food policy specialist with the state agriculture department."

The above strategy sounds reasonable and logical as the risk of serious food borne diseases is rather limited when it comes to foods containing high sugar and salt. Also true is that foods with high acidity like pickles are also relatively safe and they also need to be included for exempting from licensing and frequent inspections. What is not permissible is to sell these products loose and insisting on suitable packing and suitable labeling for accountability purpose and such a provision is justifiable keeping in view the safety of consumers at large.


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