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Government Of Assam Health & Family Welfare Commissionerate of Food & Drugs Administration


  • Introduction

    Adequate, safe and wholesome food is a vital element for the achievement of acceptable standards of living. There is increasingly worldwide concern about food safety and animal and plant health. The WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures sets out the basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health regulations. It applies to all such measures which may, directly or indirectly, affect international trade. All countries have the right to adopt or enforce necessary measures to protect human, animal or plant life or health, subject to the requirement that these measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between Members where the same conditions prevail.

    The major objectives of the work of Codex Alimentarius Commission [CAC] are to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade as well as to facilitate international trade in food. The National Codex Contact Point (NCCP) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare acts as the liaison office to coordinate with the other concerned government departments (at central and state level), food industry, consumers, traders, research and development institutions to ensure fulfill this objective. Article 7 of the Agreement requires the members to provide information on Sanitary or Phytosanitary requirements in the country. For this purpose each Member is required to ensure that one Enquiry Point exists which is responsible for answering all reasonable questions from interested Members as well as to provide relevant documents relating to SPS Regulations adopted or proposed, etc.

    Codex Alimentarius Commission [CAC]

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purpose of this Programme is to protect the health of consumers, ensure fair practices in the food trade, and promote coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations. These standards are accepted by World Trade Organization (WTO) in settling disputes in international trade.

    Codex Alimentarius is a collection of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations. The Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene introduces the use of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), being the prime food safety management system. Several significant issues, vital to fulfilling the objectives of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, namely, protecting the health of consumers, ensuring food safety and promoting fair global trade practices are under discussion across several Codex Committees that focus on Food Safety Objectives.



    Organic foods are made according to certain production standards. For the vast majority of human history, agriculture can be described as organic; only during the 20th century got large supply of new synthetic chemicals introduced to the food supply. Under organic production, the use of conventional non-organic pesticides, insecticides and herbicides is greatly restricted and saved as a last resort. However, since the early 1990s organic food production has had growth rates of around 20% a year, far ahead of the rest of the food industry,in both developed and developing nations. As of April 2008, organic food accounts for 1–2% of food sales worldwide.

    Meaning and Origin of Term

    In 1939, Lord Northbourne coined the term organic farming in his book Look to the Land (1940), out of his conception of "the farm as organism," to describe a holistic, ecologically-balanced approach to farming—in contrast to what he called chemical farming, which relied on "imported fertility" and "cannot be self-sufficient nor an organic whole."

    Organic food refers to crops or livestock that are grown on the farm without the application of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and without using genetically modified organisms. In contrast, the type of agriculture followed by most farmers, which does include the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, is termed "conventional" agriculture. Organic food, food raised without chemicals and processed without additives. Food whose ingredients are at least 95% organic by weight may carry the "USDA ORGANIC" label; products containing only organic ingredients are labelled 100% organic. Organic gardening uses organic seeds, organic fertilizers, compost, organic root stimulators, and organic pest control.

    Legal Definition

    The National Organic Program (run by the USDA) is in charge of the legal definition of organic in the United States and does organic certification. To be certified organic, products must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the country they are sold in. Many people prefer to grow organic food in their home gardens, because it costs about 20% more than the conventional food.


    Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients. If non-organic ingredients are present, at least a certain percentage of the food's total plant and animal ingredients must be organic (95% in the United States and Australia) and any non-organically produced ingredients are subject to various agricultural requirements.

    Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives, and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions, such as chemical ripening, food irradiation, and genetically modified ingredients. Pesticides are allowed so long as they are not synthetic.

    Popular organic food items include organic tea, organic coffee, organic wine, organic meat, organic beef, eggs, organic milk, organic honey, organic vegetables, organic

    Dried Food


    During World War II, the freeze-dried process was developed commercially when it was used to preserve blood plasma and penicillin. Freeze-drying requires the use of a special machine called a freeze-dryer, which has a large chamber for freezing and a vacuum pump for removing moisture. Over 400 different types of freeze-dried food products have been commercially developed since the 1960s. Two bad candidates for freeze-drying are lettuce and watermelon because they have too high a water content and freeze-dry poorly. Freeze-dried coffee is the best-known freeze-dried product.

    Freeze-dried coffee was first produced in 1938, and lead to the development of powdered food products. Nestle company invented freeze-dried coffee, after being asked by Brazil to help find a solution to their coffee surpluses. Nestle's own freeze-dried coffee product was called Nescafe, and was first introduced in Switzerland


    Freeze drying is the process of dehydrating frozen foods under a vacuum so the moisture content changes directly from a solid to a gaseous form without having to undergo the intermediate liquid state through sublimation. In this process, the product maintains its original size and shape with a minimum of cell rupture.

    Irradiated Food

    Irradiation is a more general term of deliberate exposure of materials to radiation to achieve a technical goal (in this context "ionizing radiation" is implied).

    Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation to destroy and check the multiplication microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. Further applications include sprout inhibition, delay of ripening, and improvement of re-hydration.

    The genuine effect of processing food by ionizing radiation involves damage to DNA, the basic genetic information for life. Microorganisms can no longer proliferate and continue their malignant or pathogenic activities. Spoilage-causing micro-organisms cannot continue their activities. Insects do not survive, or become incapable of proliferation. Plant ripening or ageing process is delayed by irradiation.

    Genetically Modified (GM) Food

    Genetically Modified (GM) Organisms and GM Foods

    Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The technology is often called ―modern biotechnology‖ or ―gene technology‖, sometimes also ―recombinant DNA technology‖ or ―genetic engineering‖. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between non-related species. Although "biotechnology" and "genetic modification" commonly are used interchangeably, GM is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of organisms such as animals, plants, or bacteria. Biotechnology, a more general term, refers to using organisms or their components, such as enzymes, to make products that include wine, cheese, beer, and yogurt. Combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology, and the resulting organism is said to be "genetically modified," "genetically engineered," or "transgenic." GM products (current or those in development) include medicines and vaccines, foods and food ingredients, feeds, and fibers. Such methods are used to create GM plants – which are then used to grow GM food crops.

    Why are GM foods produced GM foods are developed – and marketed – because there is some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer of these foods. This is meant to translate into a product with a lower price, greater benefit (in terms of durability or nutritional value) or both. Initially GM seed developers wanted their products to be accepted by producers so have concentrated on innovations that farmers (and the food industry more generally) would appreciate. The initial

    Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals

    Functional Foods Clearly, all foods are functional, as they provide taste, aroma, or nutritive value. Within the last decade, however, the term functional as it applies to food has adopted a different connotation -- that of providing an additional physiological benefit beyond that of meeting basic nutritional needs. The term functional foods was first introduced in Japan in the mid-1980s and refers to processed foods containing ingredients that aid specific bodily functions in addition to being nutritious. To date, Japan is the only country that has formulated a specific regulatory approval process for functional foods. Known as Foods for Specified Health Use (FOSHU), these foods are eligible to bear a seal of approval from the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare. Currently, 100 products are licensed as FOSHU foods in Japan. In the United States, the functional foods category is not recognized legally. The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board (IOM/FNB, 1994) defined functional foods as "any food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains


    Nutraceutical a term combining the words ―nutrition‖ and ―pharmaceutical,‖ is a food or food product that provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered foods, herbal products, and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages. The definition of nutraceutical that appears in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is as follows: A food stuff (as a fortified food or a dietary supplement) that provides health benefits. Nutraceutical foods are not subject to the same testing and regulations as pharmaceutical drugs. The American Nutraceutical Association works with the Food & Drug Administration in consumer education, developing industry and scientific standards for products and manufacturers, and other related consumer protection roles.

    Nutraceuticals is a broad umbrella term used to describe any product derived from food sources that provides extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. Products typically claim to prevent chronic diseases, improve health, delay the aging process, and increase life expectancy.