In January 2014 the FSSAI had issued Composite Guidelines for the Authorised Officers, which contained among other things, instructions about the food imported by individuals/ Companies/ Firms etc. intended for display in a trade fair, exhibition or elsewhere. The guidelines said that once Custom deptt. refers it to FSSAI then such imported food products would be cleared but the exhibitionists need to give an affidavit that says:
- after the exhibition or event the food articles will be destroyed as that is the prevailing law
- or exported back to the country of origin
- bill of entry must clearly state that the food articles are only being imported for display purposes in a trade fair, exhibition or for whatever purpose they have been imported for
- the request must also be accompanied by a document from the Customs Authorities which states the above
- these particular imports will not be treated like FICS
However, in these guidelines there had been no mention of the word ‘tasting’ and so there has been a request and representation from several exporters to permit ‘tasting’ of food for the upcoming Aahar -2015 the International Food and Hospitality fair between March 10th and 14th to be held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. In this regard FSSAI has received a reference for Indian Trade promotion organization (ITPO) and representations from Japan External Trade organisation (JETRO) and Wi-Not Beverage Solutions Pvt. Ltd. FSSAI has issued a new letter on 19th February 2015 in which it has clarified the guidelines again for the import of food articles meant for exhibition and tasting purposes.
Presently the imported food products referred to FSSAI for clearance by the Custom Authorities are inspected, sampled and tested for food safety according to FSSAI parameters. However, the representations have been examined by FSSAI and the observation they have made is that such foods would be cleared by the FSSAI since the food products are
- Imported only for the purpose of exhibition so they have a limited purpose of ‘display and tasting’ at a disclosed venue for a fixed time period.
- Not meant for retail sale at an open market and
If all food safety precautions have been taken such food items meant for ‘exhibition and tasting’ would be exempt from the normal clearance procedures of the FSSAI. Those who are exhibiting the food products will need to submit an Undertaking before the Custom Authorities that says
- Imported food product(s) are meant for the limited purpose of the exhibition and tasting and not for any commercial purposes/sale and so will not be sold
- The imported food is safe. If the food is used for tasting purposes then the importing exhibitor needs to submit a copy of the food safety certificate issued by the Food Regulatory Authority of the country of origin.
- Those food products that are included in the list of Prohibited Items for the Import of the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will not be allowed to be imported for exhibition purposes.
- Such food items meant for exhibition will bear an additional label/ sticker which states that “For Exhibition purposes only” and “not for sale.”
- The importing exhibitor needs to maintain a Bill of Material of the items and the same would have to be submitted on the demands of a competent Authority. The Bill will list items
(a) imported for exhibition
(b) consumed for the tasting purposes or destroyed
(c) readied for re-export to the country of origin at the end of the fair
Other precautions to be taken are that
- In addition to the Undertaking a placard is required to be displayed at the place of exhibition of food items offered for “tasting” advising consumers that the product may not be in compliance with the applicable Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and Regulations.
- The unconsumed but opened portions of the food products meant for tasting are to be destroyed after the exhibition. The food product in packed containers shall be re-exported to the country of origin.