On 14 January 2016 the FSSAI had notified and operationalized the Food Safety and Standards (Food Import) regulations 2016. These Food Import regulations clarified all aspects of food import, compliance, licensing, food inspection, labelling, safe and unsafe food etc. for FBOs who import food into the country. These regulations are already operational and being followed by FBOs.
The FSSAI had stated through one clause (14.3) that the provisions of the Act and the Regulations were applicable to all Duty Free Shops at Airports also as well as all Special Economic Zones. The FSSAI has now given fresh directions in a notification dated 3 June 2016 regarding Duty Free shops at airports and has decided to delete retail outlets at airports from the Food Safety and Standards (Food Import) regulations 2016 with immediate effect.
The FSSAI has undertaken this move because it had received representations from stakeholders and in view of these representations has re-examined the clause on duty free shops. After due considerations and consultation with experts the FSSAI has come to the conclusion that Duty Free shops would be outside the ambit of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and any regulations made under the Act. Therefore the FSSAI has excluded Duty Free shops at airports from the Food Import regulations 2016 and duty free shops will no longer be governed by the provisions of this regulation till the final notification of the 2016 import regulation.
Travellers bringing in foods and drinks into the country after purchasing them at duty-free shops on all airports need to be in compliance with the food import regulations. Strictly speaking retail outlets at airports cannot be governed by India’s food regulations as foods and drinks sold there may not be technically on Indian soil. Also most of these retail outlets are not importing items into the country through customs but are selling them at the airports only as per government jurisdiction.
Most of the food items, beverages and drinks bought at international ports are for personal consumption. Moreover duty free retail shops at airports come under the ambit of customs regulations in terms of quantity of purchase. No traveller or passenger can bring in more than the allowed quantity to make a further sale of the product as is exemplified in the FSSAI regulations. The products in these shops are only sold to travellers and the government decides which goods will be sold duty free. Some countries have item limits for purchases made in duty free shops while other products might have monetary limits on purchase.