FSSAI's Malik moved to Niti Aayog
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) chief executive Y S Malik was shifted from his department to the Niti Aayog. The move is bound to produce ripples and raise "questions about the efficacy of regulators." The step is seen by some others as a positive step for the packaged food industry ahead of PM Modi's visit to the US this week.
Yudhvir Malik is a 1983 batch Haryana cadre Indian Administrative Officer. He had served at the Union ministry of corporate affairs and the Haryana industry ministry, among other posts. On 7 October 2014, he was appointed as the new CEO of FSSAI. At the time of appointment, the "licensing and registration of food business operators (FBOs) process" at the earliest was his prime task.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India works under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It was created to determine "standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import" for safe consumption.
YS Malik was seen primarily as the face behind the FSSAI Maggi recall. The recall was initiated after the Swiss multinational Nestle's favorite Maggi noodles failed tests for lead and added MSG. Until Bombay HC ruled in Nestle's favour, the product stood banned. Some saw this as being uncalled for and argued that Malik could've used other corrective measures rather than shock treatment.
Till a day before banning of Maggi and its 9 variants, the FSSAI had rejected 500 products which violated the FSSAI norms.
Sources within the FSSAI said that Malik's "way of working had upset many in the government as well in the industry." Not only Maggi, but many other leading brands of various other multinational companies like the Tata Starbucks and Kelloggs came under FSSAI's regulatory scanner. This caused widespread disgruntlement from the food industry honchos against Malik.
Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal charged at the FSSAI for "creating an environment of fear" in the food industry. This is the first time the FSSAI has been criticised by the government since its recent crackdown on food items. Further, the minister said that the "Inspector Raj" within FSSAI should end, clearly hinting at the FSSAI chief YS Malik.
The transfer of Malik was kept under wraps so much so that the chief himself had no idea that he was going to be transferred.