Exporters of certain food products (see the list further below) to Myanmar, and their importers (e.g. customers and distributors) should take note of the recent introduction of mandatory testing of food products being imported into the country.
The Myanmar Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new testing guidelines for food products to be imported into Myanmar, and they took effect on 29 April 2020. The passing of the tests will be required as a condition for new applications for, or renewals of, Food Import Recommendations, required for importing the products.
Existing importers should check their existing Food Import Recommendations and their expiry dates, and plan for compliance with the testing requirements being part of the process of renewals of these recommendations.
Similarly, where companies plan to introduce new products into Myanmar, the process and workflow for securing the Food Import Recommendations to allow the importation must also take into account the testing of these products.
Although the new guidelines should not impact existing shipments (which should already be covered by existing Food Import Recommendations), it would be prudent to anticipate that some shipments may be affected as implementation of the new guidelines are rolled out to the agencies concerned.
In terms of compliance, we also recommend reviewing the new requirements to assess any potential technical issues that may arise with regard to the new specifications provided in the guidelines. If any issues are identified, the FDA can be approached prior to testing in order to clarify issues or requirements.
Finally, it should be noted that as far as the authorities are concerned, the antecedent for these new guidelines are the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Food Importation and Exportation which was introduced in December 2019. We recommend verifying that the current importation workflows of importers are consistent with the SOP. The full text of the SOP (in Myanmar) is available here: http://www.fda.gov.mm/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SOP.pdf.
Categories of Food Products affected by the Testing Requirements
The new food testing guidelines set minimum requirements for laboratory testing for food safety. It covers several product categories, including the following:
- Milk formula and pasteurised milk
- Cheese, butter, margarine
- Vegetable oil
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Bottled drinking water
- Meat and seafood
- Spices, condiments and sauces
- Health supplements
- Preserved fruits, jams and jelly
- Frozen desserts
- Coffee and tea
- Instant noodles/vermicelli
- Food additives,
- Ready to eat snacks
- Processing aids
- Food supplements
- Ready-to-cook products
The complete text (in Myanmar) is available here: https://www.fda.gov.mm/?p=2975
The guidelines do not provide specific procedures or processes for the application (which is covered in the SOP), but instead set out the parameters for testing that would be mandatory or optional, depending on the food category.
We recommend that exporters and importers check whether their products are covered by the guidelines. It may also be helpful to approach the FDA prior to lodging an application for Food Import Recommendation (or renewals thereof) to clarify the requirements and/or any technical parameters that may need to be addressed.
As the new guidelines currently cover a limited list of products, it is possible that an updated list may further be issued in the future, and we recommend keeping a close watch at developments on this area.