On the backdrop of recent food import clearance issue, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued import-related guidelines to its authorised officers. The guidelines try to clear ambiguity over labelling and other issues which has led to non-clearance of food consignments over Rs 400 crore.
“It appears there is lack of clarity in many areas of food import clearance system followed by the FSSAI. These guidelines support implementation of the FSS Act, rules and regulations made and advisories issued from time-to-time and are intended to assist in dealing with the food articles sought to be imported,” Sanjay Dave, FSSAI advisor said.kl;
Highlights of the new guidelines:
1. Applications should be submitted only online through Food Import Clearance System (FICS) and processed on first-come-first-served basis, except refrigerated consignments and air cargo which should be processed on the same day.
2. Food articles imported for scientific research and development purpose may not require NOC from FSSAI, unless the customs refers so to the authority.
3. Food articles imported for exhibition purpose will be cleared on producing required affidavit by the importer.
4. The authority has advised the authorised officers not to reject the consignment for “simple and non-specified” issues like MRP being not mentioned on the product.
5. FSSAI has allowed to paste “veg/non-veg” logo and “importer’s name and address” in form of stickers before sampling.
6. FSSAI License number and logo can also be pasted as a sticker before sampling from 1st July 2014. There is no bar on adding the logo and the license number before the date.
7. All other labeling requirements shall satisfy compliance with FSS (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011.
8. Samples will not be forwarded to labs until the importers or the custom house agent on their behalf rectify any defects in labelling.
9. Labs should submit the test reports to the authorised officer within five days.
10. While rejecting the imported food articles, authorised officer should quotes the relevant provisions. Rejections should be uploaded on the FICS daily.