Roundtable on Counterfeit Food products | New Delhi
The food and beverage industry faces a challenge from counterfeiters on a global scale. Counterfeit foodproducts and beverages threaten the health and safety of people around the world who often unsuspectingly buy these potentially very dangerous goods. More so, this is coupled with the loss of revenue and reputation of the impacted industry. Counterfeiting in this area is particularly dangerous because consumption of non-standard or low quality edible food and drinks can lead to involuntary ingestion of toxic substances that may cause serious health ailments or be life-threatening.
The magnitude and effects of counterfeiting are of such significance that they compel strong and sustained action from governments, business and consumers. With this in view, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India [FSSAI] and FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy [CASCADE] jointly organized a Roundtable on Counterfeit Food Products. This roundtable was organized with the objective to have in place a detailed action plan for government, enforcement agencies and industry to address this menace. The initiative was supported by FICCI CIFTI and E-Commerce Committee.
Mr. Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, who chaired the roundtable, stated that FSSAI would look into the problem of counterfeit food products holistically and advised the food safety administration on the legal provisions available and their effective enforcement. Moreover, based on the inputs received from industry, an action plan would be developed to address the issue of counterfeit food products, which will be based on the following parameters:
* Nature, Background & Current Status of Counterfeiting of Food Products in India
* Current Legal & Regulatory Provisions to Check Counterfeiting of Goods
* Industry Initiatives for Controlling Counterfeiting
* Initiatives by E-Commerce Companies
* Initiatives by Direct Selling Companies
* Leveraging Technology: Use of Track & Trace Mechanism to Control Counterfeiting
* Strengthening of Enforcement & Surveillance Mechanism
* Consumer Awareness & Capacity Building
* CASCADE & Industry Associations Initiatives on addressing Counterfeiting
Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said that over past several years through its various initiatives, CASCADE had taken a number of steps to address the threat of counterfeiting and smuggling. A key tool to address this issue is educating consumers to ask for a bill while buying products so that this would act as a proof-of-purchase and can be used for consumer protection in case the product is a counterfeit. He also emphasized that strengthening the penal provisions along with their speedy adjudication for cases related to counterfeiting were imperative.
The roundtable was attended by leading food and beverage companies, including ITC, Nestle, Britannia, Dabur, Coco-Cola, Hindustan Unilever, Mondelez, Mars, Marico, DS Group, Perfetti Van Melle, Pernod Richard, Diageo etc. who flagged their individual issues. Representatives from major e-commerce companies, e.g. Amazon, Flipkart, Shopclues and Snapdeal also participated and explained their compliance mechanisms to address online counterfeiting.
GS1, the leading organization for anti-counterfeiting solutions, also presented their perspective on curbing this menace through the use of authentication solutions. However, it was felt that the counterfeiting scenario of each industry was unique; and therefore, solutions to address needed to be tailored according to the concerned sectors.
The members at the roundtable conclusively agreed that the criminal activities of illicit operators will only continue to be more aggressive, bolder, and more effective at infiltrating the legitimate supply chain. The proposed pragmatic action plan by FSSAI is, therefore, a welcome and much-needed step to create the desired deterrence and strengthen actions against the perpetrators of such crimes.