How many times during shopping do you notice the certification marks on a food product? Very rarely right? But, it is time for you to stop and look. The food products that we use on a daily basis have the power to impact our lives and the environment in more ways than one.
The Government of India has created certain standards for almost every product in the market to provide quality goods that are safe and reliable.
The certification marks on products help consumers get a sense of various aspects of the product including environmental impact, product quality, safety and hygiene, production standards, the absence of additives or preservatives, etc. Certification of goods also minimizes health threats to consumers, protects the environment, and promotes internal and international trade, among others.
Following are the 7 certifications issued by the Government, that you must look for before buying certain food products:
AGMARK is used for agricultural products that conform to the set of standards approved by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection, a Government of India agency.
The present AGMARK standards cover quality guidelines for a variety of commodities like cereals, pulses, vegetable oils, essential oils, fruits and vegetables, and semi-processed products like vermicelli.
The quality of a product is determined with reference to factors such as size, variety, weight, colour, moisture and fat content. The grades incorporated are grades 1, 2, 3 and 4, or special, good, fair and ordinary.
2. ISI Mark
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) operated and one of the most recognised standardization marks in India, ISI mark is employed on products that meet the set Indian Standards for products and are deemed safe for consumer use.
The Mark is both mandatory and voluntary. Some mandatory ISI certification products include cement, electrical appliances, LPG cylinder, Batteries, oil pressure stove, automobile accessories, medical equipment, steel products, stainless steel, chemicals, fertilizers, infant foods and packaged drinking water.
3. FPO Mark
This is a mandatory mark that one will find on all processed fruit products sold in India such as packaged fruit beverages, fruit-jams, crushes and squashes, pickles, dehydrated fruit products, and fruit extracts following the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006.
The FPO mark guarantees that the product was manufactured in a hygienic ‘food-safe’ environment, thus ensuring that the product is fit for consumption. Next time you pick up a bottle of fruit-jam or juice do look for this mark.
4. The green and red dot
This is a fairly popular sign that one can find on most food products. As per Food Safety & Standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011.
- Every package of ‘non-vegetarian’ food shall carry a symbol of a brown colour-filled circle inside a square with brown outline, having sides double the diameter of the circle.
- In case any article of food contains only egg as a non-vegetarian ingredient, the manufacturer or packer or seller may declare it in addition to the said symbol.
- Every package of vegetarian food shall bear a symbol which consists of a green colour-filled circle, having a diameter not less than the minimum size specified, inside the square with green outline having size double the diameter of the circle.
The symbol also needs to be displayed in a prominent place on the package.
5. FSSAI Certification
This is a voluntary certification for food products manufacturers and outlets like restaurants and home-delivered food producers. The standard comes with a 14-digit unique license number specific to the food producer.
The certification means that the food is hygienic and meets the norms set under the Food Safety Standards (FSS) Act, 2006.
6. India Organic Certification
With “organic” fast becoming the “Word of the Decade”, it was important to bring in a certification for authentic organic products.
The India Organic Certification is a label given to organic products after validation, which ensures that the product or raw materials used in the product were grown through organic farming – without any chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or induced hormones.
A trademark – ‘India Organic’ is granted on the basis of compliance with the National Standards for Organic Production (NSOP).
Now, Jaivik Bharat Mark is started being used for Organic Produce.
This marking scheme was introduced in the year 1991. It is given to those products that conform to a set of standards aimed at the least impact on the ecosystem. While this is not a mandatory quality mark, it serves as an advisory to consumers.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the aegis of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO standards), governs all the industrial standardisation and the industrial product certifications in India.
While the government is doing its bit by providing these certification marks, we, as aware citizens, should try and observe before buying or consuming any product.
To read more about Product Quality Standardisation Certifications, click here.
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