RSS affiliate trains guns at FSSAI for baby food import, alleges violation
RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which works on economic issues and pitches for indigenous production, has raised concerns over allowing the import of infant foods by FSSAI.
RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has accused Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for collaborating with multinational companies to import food for the infants, which is not permitted under the law.
The Infant Milk Substitutes (IMS) Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992, and amended in 2003, seeks to protect breastfeeding and bars promotional activities by baby food manufacturers.
The SJM, which works on economic issues and pitches for indigenous production, has raised concerns over allowing the import of infant foods by FSSAI under its ‘Diet 4 Life’ programme for infants suffering from Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM).
“There is a concerted effort by the FSSAI to subvert this definition and exempt certain ‘Foods for Special Medical Purposes’ from the provisions... of the Act in collusion with four major baby food corporations Nestle, Abbot, Danone, Mead Johnson. These companies have come in under the guise of an NGO called Infant and young child nutrition council,”Ashwani Mahajan, SJM’s national co-convenor, said.
FSSAI has refuted the allegation, and argued that IEM is a life-threatening condition that affects thousands of infants. “Without these foods, children would not be able to survive,” FSSAI replied.
On its decision to allow imports, FSSAI said the manufacturing capacity of the only Indian company making these product is well below the required demand.
However, this assertion is challenged by Dr Arun Gupta, central coordinator, breastfeeding promotion network. He said there is no data on the number of infants suffering from IEM.
Clarifying that the SJM does not object to the import of products for use by IEM patients, Mahajan said: “The FSSAI has provided a leverage to these companies and proposed exemption of their FSMPs from complying with the provisions of the IMS Act. We support the implementation of the IMS Act and calls for adhering to the definitions of ‘Infant Milk Substitutes’ and it should apply to FSMPs as well. SJM does not agree with the interpretation of FSSAI that FSMPs are not infant milk substitutes and also believe that FSSAI does not have the mandate to change the definitions under the IMS Act.”