In January this year, the FSSAI had drafted the Food Safety and Standards (Food Import) Regulations 2016. Thereafter, the FSSAI issued orders for operationalization of the Food Import regulation. However, through a notification dated 25 October 2016 the FSSAI has now made further amendments to the earlier draft and has asked for objections and suggestions before the expiry of 30 days from the above mentioned date.
Chapter I – The regulations could be called the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations 2016.
The following is a gist of what each chapter of the Food import regulations deals with
Chapter –II deals with Licensing of Food Importers and Food Business Operators
- No person is permitted to import any article of food without an import license from the Central Licensing Authority.
- No food item will be cleared for import unless it has sixty per cent shelf life at the time of its clearance from the customs.
- Food Importer must register with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and possess valid Import-Export Code
The FSSAI has also clarified under what circumstances the license can be suspended or cancelled. Even if the FBO has an Import –Export Code the food Import license may be revoked, cancelled or suspended
- for contravention of regulations
- if the food importer attempts to import unsafe articles of food, prohibited articles of food or articles of food from prohibited sources, directly or indirectly, including re-channelling or re-packing
If the certificate of Importer-Exporter Code is suspended, revoked or cancelled the FBO must inform the Central Licensing Authority and the Authorised Officer within 24 hours. At this juncture the import license from FSSAI will deem to have been cancelled. It can however be granted afresh on application.
Chapter- III describes the detailed procedure for ‘Clearance of food by the Food authority’
In the first step the importer or the Custom House Agent will need to file an Integrated Declaration Form in the Customs Single Window Integration for Facilitating Trade once the food consignment arrives. The form will be processed in the following manner
- Authorised Officer shall scrutinise the Form and may seek clarification if required. On satisfactory scrutiny, the applicant shall pay the fees as specified by the Food Authority for scrutiny of documents, visual inspection and drawing of sample.
- Where a single bill of entry is made up of articles of food consignment consisting of multiple categories of articles of food, inspection fee shall be paid for each category of articles of food. The fee is subject to review.
- On receipt of the fees, the Authorised Officer shall intimate the details of date and time of inspection so that the Food Importer or his Custom House Agent are present at the time and place of inspection to facilitate visual inspection, assist in drawing samples and witness the sealing of samples and countersign the sealed samples.
Compliance with standards for packaging and labelling
Food Importer is not authorised to import food that is not transported, or stored in optimal storage conditions of temperature and hygiene, packaged and labelled as per the regulations applicable to that particular article of food at that time.
- shall be packed in containers that facilitate inspection and collection of samples from the consignment
- consignment of multiple foods or food of different categories packed in a single container shall be packed for easy access during inspection and sampling
Special labelling requirements and rectification
Besides other labelling requirements the imported food consignments must comply with these special labelling requirements
- Name and address of the importer
- FSSAI Logo and license number
- Non-Veg or Veg Logo
In case of deficiency these labels can be affixed or rectified on arrival in the custom bonded warehouse. The Authorised Officer can pass orders to carry out the permissible rectification by attaching a single non-detachable sticker or use any other non-detachable method next to the main display panel without masking the original label information. In case the Food Importer fails to rectify the permissible defects, the Authorised Officer may pass an order refusing clearance of such imported articles of food and issue a non-conformance report. The consignments that do not comply with the provisions of Labelling and Packaging Regulation, 2011 shall be rejected at the visual inspection and no samples shall be drawn from the consignment.
Chapter IV deals with Food Import Clearance for Specific Purposes
No clearance is required by Food Authority for food meant for
- personal use in compliance with Customs requirement
- export as per the extant Government instructions and export rejected or reimported articles of food meant for re-export
- the articles of food, ingredients or additives which are being imported by the manufacturers or processors for their captive use or production of value added products for hundred per cent exports
- However, the Importer must declare the above mentioned types of food imports in the Single Window Integration for Facilitating Trade
- For consulates food will be imported under provisions of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963
- For the purposes of research and development on a licensed Food Importer will get clearance and will have to declare this in the Single Window Integration for Facilitating Trade that the imported food is for purpose of R&D only and not for the domestic market or used for test marketing or market research purposes.
- For exhibition the exhibitor will declare the same in the Single Window Integration for Facilitating Trade. If tasting is proposed exhibitor must submit a copy of the food safety certificate issued by the Food Regulatory Authority of the country of origin. Prohibited foods may not be imported for exhibitions. Exhibition foods must have an additional label stating “For Exhibition purpose only” and “Not for sale.”
Chapter –V deals with Storage, Inspection and Sampling of Imported Food
Consignment must be stored in a manner so that it does not come in contact with other articles of food and according to the specified storage condition. If imported foods require special storage conditions the Authorised Officer will confirm the availability from department of customs. If storage facility is unavailable then after no objection from customs the importer’s warehouse will be treated as custom bonded area and applicant will need to declare this in the Single Window Integration for Facilitating Trade.
Chapter –VI deals with the procedure of the Analysis of Samples of Imported Food Articles. One of the samples will be sent to food analyst of a notified food laboratory. The notified laboratory will test the samples according to test methods specified for different categories of foods by the FSSAI and on unavailability adopt the methods specified by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The test analysis report will be submitted as per Form 2 within 5 days of the test.
Chapter VII deals with the scheme that can be used for Risk Based food import clearance
- The framework is outlined
- Agreement with exporting countries
- Alert notification in case of risk
- Provision for post clearance surveillance and inspection is outlined
- A recall plan will also be submitted by the importers
- Provision for post clearance surveillance
Chapter VII deals with Prohibition and Restrictions on Food Imports
The Food Authority may prohibit or restrict import of any article of food based on risk perception or outbreak of disease and issue orders as it deems fit in this regard.
Chapter IX describes the powers and duties of the Officers of the Food Authority
Chapter X deals with the orders of the Authorised Officer
- Visual inspection report to be on Form 1
- No objection certificate will be issued in Form 3
- Non-conformance report is issued in Form 4
- Mandatory destruction of food articles are issued in Form 5
- Orders must be forwarded to the Customs and Food Importer along with a report of the laboratory analysis wherever required.
Chapter XI deals with the Review process
The review application will be filed in Form 6
Chapter XII deals with the disposal of food consignments and food samples when there is non-conformance.
Chapter XIII deals with the treatment of un-cleared and unclaimed food
The ‘Forms’ are available at the end of the regulations after chapter XIII.
To view the original notification: Visit fssai.gov.in