FSSAI notifies the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017
In a pathbreaking initiative to ensure that safe and wholesome food is offered to the public, Authorized Officers of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (“FSSAI”) had visited various ports in India to check clearance of food items.
The FSSAI observed that food products are being imported into India from various countries and with such growing trade it is imperative to have a systematic process in place for clearance of imported food.
With a view to streamline the process of clearance of imported food in an efficient and transparent manner, the FSSAI has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 (“Regulations”) effective 9th March, 2017 [P.S. The Gazette notification on the Regulations was uploaded in the FSSAI website on 20th March, 2017].
Highlights of the Regulations:
- Licensing of Food Importers:
- No article of food will be cleared from the custom unless it has a valid shelf life of not less than 60% at the time of import. [ Shelf Life means the period between the date of manufacture and the “Best Before” or “Date of expiry” whichever is earlier as printed on the label].
- Persons intending to import any article of food need to obtain an import license from the Central Licensing Authority in accordance with the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011 (“Licensing Regulations”).
- Food Importer must register themselves with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and possess a valid Import-Export Code.
- Standards for Packaging and Labelling:
- Food Importer must not import articles of food which is not transported, or stored in optimal storage conditions of temperature and hygiene, packaged and labeled as per the regulations applicable to that article of food.
- Consignment of food or multiple foods or food falling under different categories packed in a single container or carton orpallet or skid, must be packed in such a manner that the Authorised Officer has easy access to all of them for inspection and sampling.
- In case of imported packaged food consignments, following special dispensation on labeling is allowed for the rectifiable labeling deficiencies at the custom bound warehouse by affixing a single nondetachable sticker or by any other non-detachable method next to the principle display panel namely:―
- name and address of the importer;
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s Logo and license number,
- Non-Veg or Veg Logo
- Category or sub category along with generic name, nature and composition for proprietary food.
For this purpose, the Authorised Officer may pass an order directing the Food Importer or his authorised agent to carry out the permissible labelling rectifications, within a specified time in the customs area without altering or masking the original label information in any manner.
- Storage and Sampling of Imported Food:
- Consignment of food articles should not be stored in a manner that one type of articles of food comes in contact with other type of articles of food.
- The imported articles of food should be stored in accordance with the specified storage conditions in the custom warehouse before clearance. Flouting of this obligation may result in refusal of grant no objection certificate for import clearance of the food consignment by the concerned Authorised Officer.
- The importer or customs must ensure sale only after clearance based on no objection certificate.
- In case of non – availability of storage facility, the Authorised Officer will confirm from the department of custom their no objection to treat importers warehouse as custom bonded area. For this purpose, the Authorised Officer will require an undertaking from the importer and issue provisional no objection certificate to the importer to move the food consignment to a well-equipped storage facility.
- Scheme for Risk based Food Import Clearance:
As per the Import Regulations, FSSAI may review risks associated with articles of food imports from time to time and adopt a risk-based framework and risk based inspection process for clearance of imported articles of food.
For this purpose, a process has been put in place. Highlights of the same are:
- Profiling of the Importer, Custom House Agents, imported product, manufacturer of the imported product, country of origin, source country of the consignment, port of entry, compliance history and any other parameters deemed fit for profiling the risk associated with the commodity by FSSAI.
- Specifying the sampling frequency to be conducted for the import of different categories of food products by FSSAI.
- Probable introduction of Pre-Arrival Document Review for regulating the imports by FSSAI.
- Importer required to submit a recall plan as per regulations on food recall procedures specifying the detail of contingency plan of ensuring the traceability of the products in case of any eventuality of risk associated with the food consignments, failure of which may lead to cancellation or suspension of license.
- Prohibition and Restrictions on Imports of Article of Food
- The Import Regulations provide that the Food Authority may prohibit or restrict import of any article of food based on risk perception or outbreak of disease and issue orders as it deems fit in this regard.
- Clearance of Imported Food by the FSSAI
- Upon arrival of the food consignments at the port, the importer or Custom House Agent has to file an Integrated Declaration Form as specified by the Customs.
- The Form forwarded from Customs to the Food Import Clearance System of FSSAI will be processed in the following manner, namely:―
- the Authorised Officer will scrutinise the Form and may seek clarification if required;
- upon satisfactory scrutiny, the applicant will pay the fees as specified by the Food Authority for scrutiny of documents, visual inspection and drawing of sample;
- where a single bill of entry is made up of articles of food consignment consisting of multiple categories of articles of food, inspection fee should be paid for each category of articles of food;
- the FSSAI will specify and review the inspection fee from time to time;
- on receipt of the fees, the Authorised Officer shall intimate the details of date and time of inspection to the Food Importer to facilitate the presence of the Food Importer or his Custom House Agent/ Authorised representative at the time and place of inspection.
- The Food Importer or his authorised representative must remain present at the customs area to participate and facilitate visual inspection, assist in drawing of samples, if required, assist in the import clearance proceedings as instructed by the Authorised Officer or his representative and witness proceeding, sealing of samples by the Authorised Officer or his representative and affix his counter signatures on the sealed samples.
- If the Food Importer or his Custom House Agent is not present to facilitate the inspection and sampling in spite of two opportunities having been granted, the Authorised Officer may refuse to grant further opportunity for inspection and sampling of the food consignment. However, further opportunity in this behalf may be granted by the Chief Executive Officer or his authorised representative after levy of suitable fee on the Food Importer as may be specified by the Authority from time to time.
For further details, please refer to the hyperlink given below: