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2nd CeSRAC Stakeholder E-Forum organised as digital event, ISWAI & CII Joined

With an objective of enhancing the country capacity in the application of a risk-based approach for food safety with added focus on responsible serving in both unorganised and organised alcohol sector, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and International Spirit and Wine Association of India (ISWAI), joined hands to launch the Centre for Safe and Responsible Alcohol Consumption (CeSRAC), as a collaborative initiative in 2019.In continuation to that effort, the 2nd CeSRAC Stakeholder E-Forum on  Assuring Safety of Alcoholic Beverages at the Market Place using Technology and Stakeholder Collaboration was organised on July 9, 2021 as a Digital event, addressed by  domain experts from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI),  Alliance Against Counterfeit Spirits (AACS), International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI), Central Forensic Science Lab(CFSL), ANI Technology, National IP Committee CII and State Excise, Karnataka.

Towards empowering consumers, CeSRAC in collaboration with NRAI launched the consumer empowerment campaign for impactful dissemination of collaterals on safe and responsible drinking. As a pilot programme, these consumer facing collaterals would be used across 100 plus Restaurants in New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Mumbai.

These would also be available in a downloadable format at www.cesrac.in; CeSRAC in its effort to strengthen and build capacity in the manufacturing sector will also be rolling out a customized training program for the Alcoholic Beverage sector under FSSAI’s Fostac training programme.

The key deliberations at the presentations and panel discussion on Assuring Safety of Alcoholic Beverages at the Market Place using Technology and Stakeholder Collaboration are summarised below:

The Alliance Against Counterfeit Spirits (AACS), representing the world’s major international spirits producing companies and which works on combating counterfeits participated in the session.

There was a need for stakeholders working together with such bodies to protect consumers across the country. It was also discussed that guarantee of authenticity and fighting counterfeiting is a real challenge for the wine sector. For addressing this issue, it is important to distinguish the container and the content.

New analytical techniques as well as different container identification systems can provide some robust response on the authenticity of the product. However, education of the consumers would play an important role since training the consumer allow to better recognise the information mentioned on the packaging and on label.

Producers of counterfeit alcoholic beverages don’t comply with food law and good manufacturing practices.  Detection of such non-authentic, and potentially unsafe, products is however complicated by the unique nature of alcohol beverages. Sharing both the challenges and best practices in counterfeit alcohol detection amongst industry, enforcements agencies, regulators and technology providers is key to success in this area.

The pandemic has seen in an increasing incidence of counterfeiting activities.as supply chains and logistics are hit badly for genuine players. From consumer safety, brand erosion, job losses; the dangers of counterfeiting are significant, and stakeholders need to take a fresh look at the complex situation, strategise and come together to fight this menace. For Safety and Authenticity testing adoption to compliance parameters through OIV methods and Block Chain can be explored.

Towards using advanced technologies for authenticity testing of different wines and spirits, CeSRAC would work together with OIV for strengthening methods of analysis and testing FSSAI was also making Stakeholders benefit from the One nation One law. There was already an effort by FSSAI in bringing about a convergence of different regulators and different states with Excise /State Commissioners on board.

This dtakeholder forum was attended by more than 100 stakeholders including eminent Scientists, Government officials and professionals from Academia and Industry.

Dr N. Bhaskar, advisor (Science and Standards), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India appreciated the efforts of CeSRaC in creating awareness on assuring Safety of Alcoholic Beverages at the Market Place using Technology and Stakeholder collaboration and making distribution more authentic. He stated the need for advanced and validated technologies in our labs for authenticity testing of IMFL (Wines and spirits) and for our traditional liquors.

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Dr K Anu Appaiah, FSSAI Panel member for Alcoholic Beverages emphasised on the need for hand held devices to check the authenticity of the liquor as these  would be useful for Government officials, sellers, and consumers  and urged the industry to support research and development in this area.

S.L. Rajendra Prasad, additional commissioner of excise (IML), Karnataka conveyed that all stakeholders and regulatory agencies including government can work in tandem towards eliminating, counterfeiting and move towards responsible drinking. Karnataka being in the fore front and as a model state looks forward to this happening.

Prakul Kumar, secretary-general, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), expressed his appreciation on the collaboration of National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) with CeSRAC for taking forward the Consumer Empowerment campaign on safe and responsible drinking.

David Francis, managing director, Alliance Against Counterfeit Spirits, said, “The various aspects of counterfeiting its prevention and mitigation and proposed to join up efforts and work together to protect consumers across the country. It was a fantastic event focused on protecting consumers as we emerge from the pandemic.  We know that recent events have increased the prevalence of counterfeits, so the timing is perfect. CeSRAC and AACS can work together to protect consumers across the country.”

Dr Jean Claude, Scientific Coordinator OIV, said, “Guarantee of authenticity and fighting counterfeits is a real challenge for the wine sector. For challenging this issue, it is important to distinguish the container and the content. New analytical techniques as well as different container identification systems can provide some robust response on the authenticity of the product. However, education of the consumer can play an important role since training the consumer allow to better recognise the information mentioned on the packaging and on label.”

Dr Ian Goodall, senior scientist, Scotch Whisky Research Institute stated that Producers of counterfeit alcoholic beverages do not need to comply with food law and good manufacturing practice. Detection of such non-authentic, and potentially unsafe, products is however complicated by the unique nature of alcohol beverages. Sharing both the challenges and best practices in counterfeit alcohol detection amongst industry, enforcements agencies, regulators and technology providers is key to success in this area.

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Caption Shakil Ahmed, member of the National IP Committee of the Confederation of Indian Industries and Expert-Anti-counterfeiting Strategy and Technology, said, “The pandemic has dramatically boosted counterfeiting activities. As supply chains and logistics are hit badly for genuine players, the counterfeiters are having a field day. From consumer safety, brand erosion, job losses to impacting national security; the dangers of counterfeiting are unprecedented. Hence stakeholders need to take a fresh look at the towering and complex situation, strategise and come together to fight this menace.”

The above news was originally posted on www.fnbnews.com

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