The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter known as “FSSAI”), which is the apex body for regulating food-based trade in the country had released the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations (hereinafter referred to as “Regulations”), in March 2017 with a view to monitor, compliances and regulatory mechanisms required for importing food products into India. In the furtherance of the said objectives, the FSSAI amended the regulations by notifying on Food Safety and Standards (Import) First Amendment Regulations, 2018, vide notification dated February 7, 2018.
Through this amendment, the following changes have been introduced:
- The food importers will now be required to register themselves with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and possess valid Import-Export Code. (Regulation 3).
- The Regulations have defined ‘shelf life’ as the period between the date of manufacture and the “Best Before” or “Date of expiry” whichever is earlier as printed on the label. It is significant to note that in case of imports, a significant portion of the shelf life is exhausted by the time the product reaches India. After the amendment, the Custom Authorities shall not be clearing any article of food unless it has a valid shelf life of not less than 60%, or 3 months before expiry, whichever is less, at the time of import (Regulation 3).
- The Regulations provide for assessment of risks which may arise with regards to the imported food products. The Regulation states, “The Food Authority may review the 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.” Thus, the Food Authorities are, amongst other things required to profile 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. (Regulation 11).
- In furtherance of risk minimization, which states that “the importer shall submit certificate of sanitary export from authorized agencies in exporting countries for the categories of food as may be specified by the Food Authority from time to time. (regulation 11)