Surveillance Coordination Cell


An Act to consolidate the laws relating to food and to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Challenges for getting safe and wholesome food

Safe and adequate food is a human right, safety being a prime quality attribute without which food is unfit for consumption. Food safety regulations are framed to exercise control over all types of food manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and customer is assured that the food consumed is not injurious to health. From the Indian perspective, global harmonisation of food regulations is needed to improve food and nutrition security, the food trade and delivery of safe ready-to- eat (RTE) foods at all places and at all times. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) put forward to transform developing societies incorporate many food safety issues. The success of the MDGs, including that of poverty reduction, will in part depend on an effective reduction of food-borne diseases, particularly among the vulnerable group, which includes women and children. Food- and water-borne illnesses can be a serious health hazard, being responsible for high incidences of morbidity and mortality across all age groups of people. Global harmonisation of food regulations would assist in facilitating food trade within and outside India through better compliance, ensuring the safety of RTE catered foods, as well as addressing issues related to the environment. At the same time, regulations need to be optimum, as overregulation may have undue negative effects on the food trade.

Food Safety Surveillance

Section 29 (3)

Under Section 29 (3) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, “the Food Authority shall maintain a system of control and other activities as appropriate to the circumstances, including public communication on food safety and risk, food safety surveillance and other monitoring activities covering all stages of food business”.

Objectives of Surveillance

  1. search, collect, collate, analyse and summarise relevant scientific and technical data particularly relating to –
    • food consumption and the exposure of individuals to risks related to the consumption of food;
    • incidence and prevalence of biological risk;
    • contaminants in food;
    • residues of various contaminants;
    • identification of emerging risks; and
  2. Promote, co-ordinate and issue guidelines for the development of risk assessment methodologies and monitor and conduct and forward messages on the health and nutritional risks of food to State Governments and Commissioners of Food Safety;
  3. Provide scientific and technical advice and assistance to the State Governments in implementation of crisis management procedures with regard to food safety and to draw up a general plan for food safety management and work in close co-operation with the Central Government in this regard;

Types of Surveillance

  1. Active Surveillance

    A system employing staff members to regularly contact health care providers/ manufacturing units or the population to seek information about quality of food items procured, consume and the different ingredients used in the manufacturing unit and the testing parameters involved. Active surveillance provides the most accurate and timely information, but it is also expensive.

    It has following components:-

    • State specific surveillance
    • Seasonal surveillance
    • Special drives or surveillance during festivals
    • Surveillance in case of any risk associated with food
    • Commodity specific
    • Direct and ensure all States/UT establish Emergency response division at Food safety commissioner’s office
    • Network with Food testing laboratories and the emergency response division of all States/UTs
    • Based on analysis of the enforcement activities and evolving market trends, provide inputs to Surveillance team for Active Surveillance measures
  2. Passive Surveillance

    A system by which a regulatory authority receives reports submitted from manufacturing units, hospitals, clinics, public health units, schools or other sources. Passive surveillance is a relatively inexpensive strategy to cover large areas, and it provides critical information for monitoring a community's health. It has following components:-

    Collect and collate data on food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of contaminants in food through a Risk management framework and introduction of Rapid Alert System

    However, passive surveillance depends on people in different institutions to provide data, data quality and timeliness.

    Schematic presentation of the collection, collation, analysis and interpretation of surveillance data and the subsequent dissemination of information to all the major stakeholders in food safety