The import of all the food products in India is managed and controlled by the regulatory body i.e. the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The FSSAI has circulated various controlling measures and warnings, which are to be taken into contemplation while the food items are imported in India. If by any chance the imported food items are not abiding by the FSSAI guidelines, the consignments shall be dismissed and its entry won’t be permitted into India. Therefore, all the food business operators and other businesses that are into importing of food items in India are obligated to have the knowledge about the guidelines of FSSAI and control measures on safety of imported food products.
FSSAI Guidelines on Safety of Imported Food Products
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have appointed customs officials who are responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of foods that are imported across 125 points of clearance and import.
The provision for safety of imported food products has been given under Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017. This regulation has various guidelines which focus on safety guidelines and few of them are given below:-
Risk Based Framework
Under section 11 of Chapter VII of Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017, the Food Authority is authorised to review the risk associated for the safety of imported food articles and to adopt a scheme for risk-based framework and inspection process for the purpose of clearance of imported articles of food.
The FSSAI shall profile the Importer, the imported product, custom house agent, manufacturer, origin country, source country, and port of entry to assess the risk associated with the food commodity.
The Food Authority may recognize few laboratories to test the food samples in the exporting countries to ensure the safety of imported goods before the foods are imported into India.
Food Alert Notifications
The Food Authority may issue food alert notifications which shall include time bound prohibition on articles of food based on the risk associated with the food articles.
The food alert notification shall remain in force until the food authority is satisfied that the risk is no longer prevailing and the control measures for safety of imported food has been taken to prevent the continuation of risk.
Read our article:FSSAI Guidelines on the Clearance of Imported Food in India
Orders for Prohibiting and Restricting on Food Import
Under section 12 of Chapter VIII, the Food Authority has got the power to issue orders for prohibiting and restricting on Imports of Article of Food based on risk perception or any outbreak of disease.
The Food authority is authorised to issue advisory guidelines from time to time as according to the demand of the situation for ensuring the safety of imported food and wholesomeness of food articles imported into India and he shall inform about such prohibitions and restrictions to the customs immediately.
Cancel Import License
It is obligatory for the Food Importer to whom direction is issued to comply with the provision of the regulation and to abide by the order or direction as given by the Food Authority. Otherwise, the Food Authority has the discretion to cancel the import license issued to the Food Importer.
Where in a situation the Food Importer fails to act in accordance with the direction or order of the Food Authority then the customs or the port authorities concerned in the clearance or rejection of imported food articles in the customs area shall be obligated to provide the Food Authority with all such statistics on a quarterly basis.
No Objection Certificate
Under section 14 of chapter X, the Authorised Officer is the authority to issue a no objection certificate after examining and assessing the safety of imported food under his signature and seal for allowing import of food. Such order shall be communicate to the customs and the Food Importer.
The food authority shall take such other actions as are required to secure the quality and safety of the imported food articles.
Important Ministries Involved in the Import of Food Products
The important agencies involved for managing and securing the safety of imported food products are given below:-
Other Important Guidelines on Safety of Imported Food
The provision of Section 25 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 is related to import of food articles in India and the section provides that no person shall be allowed to import into India –
- Any unsafe, wrongly branded, sub-standard food or any food containing extraneous matter,
- Where any license is required for the import of any food article under any Act or regulations and the license has not been obtained in accordance with the conditions, and
- Any food article is contravening any other provision of this Act or of any other rule or regulation made under any other Act.
Shelf Life of Imported Food
The Shelf life of a food article is the time period between the manufacturing date of such food and the “Date of expiry “or the “Best Before” or whichever is earlier as has been printed on the label. It is important to check the shelf life so as to ensure the safety of the imported food articles and food which at the time of import have a valid shelf life of not less than 60% shall be cleared by customs.
Packaging and Labelling Of Imported Food
The main purpose of packaging the food is to ensure the safety of imported food in India and to make sure that the food was stored and transported in optimal storage conditions of temperature and hygiene.
Food Sampling and Analysis
The Authorised officer shall take the food sample for inspection to the food analyst and such analyst shall examine the safety of the imported food and shall intimate back to the Authorised officer.
The FSSAI has set up grievance redressal mechanism and has taken every necessary step to ensure the safety of imported food in India. Therefore, the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 provides complete procedure for clearance and safety of imported food products into India. Thus, FSSAI makes sure that a procedure for efficient inspection and examination of the food articles are followed so as to ensure the health and life of the consumers.
Read our article:A Comprehensive Guide on FSSAI Compliance