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FSSAI tightens norms for global firms bringing food products into India

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NEW DELHI : Meenakshi Verma Ambwani To ensure import of safe food products, the FSSAI has notified a new regulatory framework for foreign facilities that bring food items to India.

Under the regulations, foreign food manufacturing facilities that make products in certain categories for export to India will need to register with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and may also be subjected to inspection by Indian food safety officials. The Food Safety and Standards (Import) First Amendment Regulations, 2021, will come into effect from June 1.

This is similar to the protocols followed by international food safety agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration.

Registration, a must

The FSSAI said that it will specify the categories of food products from time-to-time based on its risk assessment for which international factories will need to register with the regulator.

“Foreign food manufacturing facilities falling under such categories and desirous to export such articles of food to India shall register with the Food Authority before exporting to India,” the regulation notification added.

The registration will be given for two years. “Foreign food manufacturing facilities may be inspected if required… Officials from FSSAI and relevant ministry or organisation or department or recognised auditing agency shall be nominated by the Food Authority for the purpose of inspection of foreign food manufacturing facilities,” the notification added.

The inspection can be done even after the registration is obtained by these manufacturing facilities.

The FSSAI said the registration of foreign food manufacturing facilities not in compliance with the food safety regulations can be cancelled or suspended. The regulations have been notified after an year-long consultation process with industry stakeholders.

Increased compliance

Amit Lohani, Founder-Director, Forum of Indian Importers, said, “We look forward to reading the fineprint as the regulation states that FSSAI will publish a list of high-risk products from time to time. FIFI members diligently work to offer food safety-compliant products to Indian consumers and also understand the intent behind this move. However, we hope that this does not translate into a non-tariff barrier to trade and furthermore that the imported goods are not subject to a separate requirement in comparison to the products of similar categories manufactured in India.”

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