The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued new rules for importing products, striving to deal with concerns over the entry of low-grade products and simplify the process by establishing shelf-life norms and relaxing labeling guidelines.

The main clause, according to the new rules, is that no food article will be authorized unless it has a 60% shelf life remaining at the time of clearance from customs.

The Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2016, will take effect when they are announced by publication in the Official Gazette, the FSSAI said. They also said that the comprehensive regulations would facilitate ease of trade and also do business while ensuring that the health of the consumers is not compromised by the company/business. 

The main highlights of the regulation are:

  • Food Items which are not having the required 60%  remaining shelf life at the time of clearance shall not be passed from the customs area.
  • No FBO shall be allowed to import food items without an import license issued by central authorities. Food Business Operator (FBO)’s shall also possess an FSSAI license, a valid Import Export Code (IEC), issued by the Directorate of Foreign Trade.
  • Licenses can be suspended in the event of circumstances such as importing unsafe or banned foods and importing such foods for the motive of re-packing and re-channeling and also in cases of not following the requirements of the license.
  • Revisable components of a food label such as –
  1. name of the importer,
  2. Address of the importer
  3. FSSAI logo,
  4. and vegetarian / Non–vegetarian symbol may be attached by the importer/CHA in the customs bonded warehouse. These shall be put on the area next to the principal display panel in a non-detachable method.
  • Consignments may be rejected after visual inspection by the FSSAI authorized officer, if found not abiding by the rules and standards of Labelling and Packaging Regulations, 2011.

The clearance of food items by food authority is not required for:

  1. Export as per the Government orders and export declined/re-imported food for the purpose of re-export
  2. The food articles/ ingredients/ additives which are imported by the manufacturers/ processors for their production of value-added items for 100% exports
  3. Consignments of food items/ ingredients/ additives imported by the companies to be used by their subsidiary companies, and to be used for 100% export production.

Another important update is that importers will be permitted to affix a single, non-removable sticker to rectify labeling errors associated to the name and address of the importer, the FSSAI logo and FSSAI license number and the symbols for non-vegetarian and vegetarian food products. The older rules didn’t allow such errors to be corrected.

According to the authority, the new regulations – except the packaging and labeling requirements – will also be applied to export consignments from India are not approved by foreign countries and are returned back.

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