With an increase the number of food imports into India the FSSAI, with a view to providing safe and wholesome food to Indian consumers has notified the Food Import Regulation 2017 as of 9 March 2017. These regulations will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations 2017 and will come into effect on their publication in the Official Gazette.
The Import Regulation will streamline the clearance process of imported food in an efficient and transparent manner. These regulations lay down the provisions for
- Licensing of food importer
- Clearance of imported food by the FSSAI
- Food import clearance for specific purposes
- Storage, sampling and inspection of imported food
- Restriction on food imports
- Amenable food labelling provisions for ease of trade
- Easy addressing of queries related to clearance of food imports
Besides these the FSSAI has also made provisions for risk based sampling of imported foods as this facilitates ease of doing business without comprising on health of consumers.
Chapter I is a preliminary chapter which outlines the definition of all the terms used in the regulation alphabetically like Authorised Officer, balance shelf life, bill of entry, custodian, customs airport, custom area, Customs House Agent, customs port, non-conformance report, prohibited article of food, review officer, risked based random sampling, Transit country list, etc. which all have a bearing on understanding the regulation in a better way.
The three main highlights under Licensing of Food Importers are
- No person shall import any article of food without an import license from the Central Licensing Authority in accordance with the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
- No article of food shall be cleared from the custom unless it has a valid shelf life of not less than sixty per cent at the time of import.
- The Food Importer shall register himself with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and possess valid Import-Export Code.
Another point is that there is a provision for cancellation and suspension for unsafe food, prohibited articles of food, or food from prohibited sources or if the food fails to comply with the conditions of the license. However, there is also provision for reconsidering and issuing a new license.
Clearance of imported food by the Authority outlines the detailed procedure which includes
- Scrutiny of the presented Integrated Declaration Form
- After successful scrutiny the fees are paid. If there are multiple categories fee is to be paid for each category separately
- Foods are then visually inspected and sample drawn
- After receipt of fee time and date of inspection is fixed and will be inspected in the presence of the food importer or Custom House Agent
- After providing two opportunities for inspection and if the inspection and sampling is still not carried out then the Authorised Officer might not grant another opportunity for
- The principle display panel must have
- name and address of the importer;
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s Logo and license number,
- Non-Veg or Veg Logo
- Category or sub category along with generic name, nature and composition for proprietary food
- These are also rectifiable deficiencies which can be permitted to rectify them. AO will only inspect and draw samples after rectification
- If the food analyst seeks additional information on ingredients or any other parameters then the AO will direct the Food importer to provide the information
- No samples will be withdrawn nor will any visual inspection take place if there is shortcoming in complying with labelling provisions
Food Import Clearance for Specific purposes are
- Foods imported for personal use must be declared in Form 7 and must not exceed the amount allowed by customs.
- Foods, additives and ingredients for captive use need not require clearance. Foods in this category follow the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 meant for embassies
- Other foods are foods for research and development
- foods for exhibition purposes
- foods meant for foreign sports participants
The regulations also provide guidelines on Storage and Sampling of imported food, analysis of samples of foods and also the scheme for risk based food import clearance. One chapter is dedicated to prohibition and restrictions on import of food articles. FSSAI can restrict the import of food articles if it perceives a risk
or outbreak of disease and all FBOSs importing foods will have to comply with the FSSAI’s guideline in this regard. The FSSAI has also provided formats for the various forms like
Form-1 for Visual inspection
Form 2 contains the format for the laboratory analysis report
Form 3 is the No objection certificate format
Form 4 has the format for Non-conformance report
Form 5 has the mandatory destruction order
Form 6 has the review application format
Form 7 comprises of the declaration and undertaking of the imported food for personal use
Form 8 undertaking and declaration for imported food consignment meant for 1005 export
Form 9 undertaking and declaration for imported food consignment meant for research and development
Form 10 comprises declaration of consignment meant for trade fairs and display
Form 11 comprises of undertaking for foods meant for Sports events
Form 12 has the format for declaration regarding issue of provisional no objection certificate for frozen and chilled imported food consignment
Form 13 has the format for declaration regarding issue of provisional NOC for imported food consignment with less than 07 days’ shelf
Form 14 is meant for imported food consignment containing bulk packages and having representative sample
Form 15 is meant for imported food consignment containing bulk packages and not having representative sample
The various forms have simplified the process of clearance of food imports and clearances can be given speedily when the application is in the right format.