As many as 700 new food and beverage products are awaiting approval by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), leading to a marked absence of new products in the market.
According to the regulator’s web page, Britannia, Danone, Amway, Abbott, Hersheys, Heinz, Cadbury, Venky's, GlaxoSmithKline and Kellogg are among the companies waiting for approval.
Amit Lohani, convener of the Forum of Indian Food Importers, told Business Standard: “Nothing is moving in the market. Consignments that are being imported are held up at ports. If you apply for product approvals, that process, too, is getting delayed.”
It is hoped that India’s long-awaited decision to introduce random testing of imported food will at least reduce delays at ports.
Instead of putting every imported food consignment through lab checks, ports will now follow the international norm of random and risk-based inspections. If this can be done effectively, India should become known for the ease with which it is possible to do business there—or at the port, at least.
Trade pressure pushes India to put standards on the anvil
The growth of mega regional trade pacts in Asia-Pacific has prompted India to address private international standards, and especially find ways to hurdle the early protectionist barriers to entry in other countries.
Blocs like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are expected to turn private standards into de facto international standards when the biggest receiving retailers use their own private standards in their domestic markets, ministers predict.
To address this, the Indian government will create a nation platform for private standards that will deal with evolving trade rules, Livemint reports.
The proposed platform will be developed under the guidance of India’s commerce ministry, supported by the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS).
“This will bring together government and private-sector stakeholders and support their engagement with the broader Indian standards community, utilising the technical, analytical and institutional support of the UN system,” said Arpit Bhutani, India observer at UNFSS.
“The UNFSS-supported national private standards platform will be a strictly nationally run and India-led public-private initiative.”
Earlier this month, the cabinet approved the Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015, to establish the new national standards body of India.
The new bill, which will be tabled in the Monsoon session of parliament, is expected to bring in a mandatory certification system to boost domestic suppliers and reduce sub-standard imports.
Authorities ramp up food safety inspection efforts
India’s food safety watchdog asked for four protein supplements to be taken off shelves last week as authorities continued their clampdown on allegedly non-conforming foods and supplements.
FSSAI ordered the products—Mulmin Pro, Mulmin Syrup, Mulmin Plus Capsule and Mulmin Drops, all made by Jagdale Industries—to be recalled with immediate effect.
"You are further directed to recall all the existing products from the market under intimation to FSSAI as the authority does not recommend approval for the product," FSSAI said.
The decision by the regulator to recall the products was taken “on the basis of recommendations by an official scientific panel for functional foods”.
The announcement came as FSSAI issued a decree for food companies to have a mandatory detailed recall plan ready.
"Food business operators shall be liable for violation [of a recall order],” said the procedures.
”A recall plan must be available in writing and shall be made available to the food authority on request. It shall also be a part of the annual audit of the food business.”
World Food Programme food aid to Nepal rejected as ‘unfit for consumption’
The UN must destroy hundreds of tonnes of food aid it had imported into Nepal for distribution to survivors of the recent earthquakes there because it is allegedly
The UN World Food Programme has already distributed more than 6,500 tonnes of rice, high energy biscuits, pulses and oil to more than 2m people in areas hit by the disaster, but Nepal’s food authorities said random tests found some rice and pulse samples were "unfit for human consumption".
The WFP's emergency coordinator said the organisation was examining its food chain, adding that it took food quality and safety "extremely seriously".
Cardamom harvest shows initial promise
Above-average rainfall in June suggests the new crop of Indian cardamom will largely be good, though heavy winds accompanied the rains in some places, damaging some plantations and reducing yields.
While the extent of the damage is not yet clear, Emperor Akbar, an Indian cardamom major, expects it will take 3-4 years for production from the damaged plants to begin again.
The second round of picking is about to start, by which time the markets should be moving upwards by $1 per kilo in the short-run. Emperor Akbar expects good all round exports with little fluctuation.