Food is emotional for a foodie is a celebration each time they find interesting food. The number of startups in food - food tech, food delivery, packaged foods is increasing. With mobile population, food has become mobile too. At NovoJuris we are working with quite a few food related startups. In this post, we are examining some of the legal requirements for mobile food vans.
Food Licenses / Registration
- As per Section 3(n) of the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006 (the “Act”), “food business” includes any undertaking carrying out any activities related to any stage of transportation, distribution of food, catering food services, etc. of food or food ingredients. Again, as per Section 3(o), “food business operator” means a person by whom the food business is carried on or owned.
- Following these definitions, the business of mobile food van may very well be brought under the ambit of the Act, thereby mandating license requirements under Section 31 of the Act.
- However, as per Section 31(2), licensing requirement are not applicable to petty manufacturer or a petty retailer or itinerant vendor or a temporary stall holder or tiny food business operator, subject to registration as prescribed by the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011 (the “Regulations”), and without prejudice to the availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption or affecting the interests of the consumers.
- “Petty Food Manufacturer” has been defined in the Regulations to include any food manufacturer, who:-
- manufactures or sells any article of food himself or a petty retailer, hawker, itinerant vendor or temporary stall holder; or distributes foods including in any religious or social gathering except a caterer; or
- such other food businesses including small scale or cottage or such other industries relating to food business or tiny food businesses with an annual turnover not exceeding Rs 12 lakhs and/or whose (i) production capacity of food (other than milk and milk products and meat and meat products) does not exceed 100 kg/ltr per day or (ii) procurement or handling and collection of milk is up to 500 litres of milk per day or (iii) slaughtering capacity is 2 large animals or 10 small animals or 50 poultry birds per day or less.
- Separate registration of every individual distributor or vehicle may be required going by the above definition of petty food manufacturer. Registration application has to be made before the Designated Officer/ Food Safety Officer or any official in Panchayat, Municipal Corporation or any other local body or Panchayat in an area, notified as such by the State Food Safety Commissioner.
- If not Petty Food Manufacturer, license has to be obtained by making an application before the Designated Officers appointed under Section 36(1) of the Act by the Food Safety Commissioner.
- Conditions with regard to safety, sanitary and hygienic requirements have to be complied with at all times.
- The Act makes the person owning or carrying on the food business directly responsible for ensuring compliances under the Act and rules and regulations made thereunder.
- Liability under the Act may be as provided in Sections 27 (2) & (3) of the Act.
Street Vendors Registration
- “Mobile Vendors” are defined under Section 2(1)(n) of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 (the “Street Vendors Act”) as street vendors who carry out vending activities in designated area by moving from one place to another place vending their goods and services. “Street vendor” again has been defined to include a person engaged in vending of food items of everyday use or offering services to the general public, in a street, lane, side walk, footpath, pavement, public park or any other public place or private area, from a temporary built up structure or by moving from place to place.
- Going by the above definitions, if the business of mobile food van is deemed to be covered under the ambit of the Street Vendors Act, then there is a need of obtaining Certificate of Vending from the Town Vending Committee.
- The said certificate is given on compliance with conditions mentioned in Section 5 of the Street Vendors Act. From a plain reading of Section 5, it appears that this Act is not applicable to those who have no other means of livelihood.
Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (the “MV Act”)
“Private Service Vehicle” has been defined in Section 2(33) of the MV Act to include any motor vehicle ordinarily used by or on behalf of the owner of such vehicle for the purpose of carrying persons for, or in connection with, his trade or business otherwise than for hire or reward. Therefore, mobile food vans need to be registered as Private Service Vehicles as mandated in Section 39 of the MV Act. Registration rules are provided under different State Rules. In Karnataka, as per the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the Regional Transport Officer of a region concerned shall be the registering authority.
Common Business Licenses
Registrations under various other legislations for running a business is applicable. A few of them are:
- Service Tax Registration
- PAN Card
- TAN (Tax Collection & Deduction Account Number)
- VAT/ CST Registration
- Professional Tax
- Employee Provident Fund Registration
- ESI (Employee State Insurance) Registration
No Objection Certification has to be obtained from fire and emergency services department evidencing compliance with fire safety guidelines.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the chief regulatory authority to lay down laws & rules based upon scientific standards to regulate manufacture, storage, distribution, sale & import of food products that are safe and wholesome for consumption. The scope of this regulator is quite wide. The many regulations for various activities, such as packaging, labelling.