Indian regulator claims to have streamlined food import norms

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Food safety, Food, Food safety and standards authority of india

Importers must now obtain licences from the Indian regulator before exporting food to the country, as part of new rules notified this month.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said a new system of granting permits and mandating the shelf-life of imports would bring more uniformity in trade with India when it is introduced.

"We are happy that FSSAI has been able to finalise the regulations for imports of food items. This will bring an end to all uncertainties regarding food imports into the country​," Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the regulator’s chief executive, told PTI. 

The regulations have been introduced to make the processing of food shipments more efficient at ports, the authority said. 

Aside from permits, the new regulations set out procedures for clearance of all food products on arrival in India, and include provisions on storage, inspection and sampling.

They also contain protocols for laboratory analysis procedures, labelling and prohibition.

Perhaps the most pressing section of the notification concerns shelf lives.

No article of food shall be cleared from the customs unless it has a valid shelf life of not less than 60% at the time of import​,” according to the rules.

They also outline a risk-based sampling system for imported foods which “facilitates ease of doing business while not compromising the health of the Indian public​," the FSAAI said. 

Meanwhile, customs officials have been told they can reject consignments that do not comply with packaging regulations. Assessments can now be made on the basis of a visual inspection, meaning that samples will not be necessary.

As these are commercial regulations, they will not apply to individuals bringing small quantities of foods into India for personal use, the regulator added.

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, South Asia

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