Pharmacy graduates ask govt to include B Pharm in the qualification category for FSO and FA

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, ChennaiTuesday, March 21, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Even as food and nutrition form part of the curriculum of the degree course in pharmaceutical sciences (B Pharm) and various components of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) are included in the syllabi of the course for the subject ‘Pharmacy Law and Ethics’, there are bottlenecks for the degree holders to become food safety officers (FSO) or food analysts (FA) under the health ministry, it is learnt.

The hurdle slows down the progress not only of the B Pharm holders, but also thousands of post-graduates, both M Pharm and Pharm D. They reiterate that it is high time for the FSSAI and the union government to consider their demand as they are the people behind the production of all nutraceuticals and food supplements mandated by rules, but are avoided from enforcement of the rules. 

Ironically, before the Food Safety and Standard Rules 2011 came into force, B Pharm was a recognized qualification for applying to the post of FSO and FA in all the states in the country. In Maharashtra, there was a rule to select food safety officers and food analysts which specified B Pharm as one of the eligible qualifications for the two posts. But, after the FSSR 2011 implemented, this eligibility criterion was nullified, accordingly the graduates became ineligible for food regulators and analysts.
Although several representations were given to the union health ministry, FSSAI and to various state governments by various associations and the PCI, no positive step towards this issue was taken by any authority anywhere in India so far, says an organisation of pharmacy graduates from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.  
Recently, the Aurangabad based association has forwarded a letter to the union health minister urging him to review the existing FSSR 2011 for amendment to include B Pharm under the criteria of eligible qualification for the posts. Substantiating their claims, the association says that pharmaceutical chemistry, biotechnology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and genetics, instrumentation etc are included as subjects for the FSO examination. Besides, there are provisions of FSSA Act. These are all covered under the syllabus of the B Pharm course. 
The group of graduates who sent the letter to the government had mentioned in their memorandum that the word ‘neutraceutical’ has originated from the combination of nutrition and pharmacy, and all the nutraceuticals are manufactured under the close observation and supervision of pharmacy graduates which is mandated by the act. All nutraceuticals are functional foods for the healthy survival of the human body. They said it is unfair to note that when the technology behind the manufacturing of nutrients is from pharmaceutical science, those who have studied the sciences are avoided from regulating the marketing of the products.
Demanding a change in the recruitment rules of the FSSAI, they further argue that B Pharm and Pharm D qualifications are the most suitable ones when compared to the FSSR recognized qualifications such as degree in medicine or agriculture or biotechnology or veterinary.
“We are the most suitable candidates for the enforcement of FSSA and we were in the list of eligible qualifications for food safety officers before 2011. We feel that for the enforcement of the FSSA and the Rules, pharmacy graduates should be given chances because they constitute a set of trained manpower for the job. Further, the number of pharmacy graduates is increasing in the country and several graduates are unemployed,” said a graduate who has just now completed his B Pharm.