While the regulations for Indian manufacturers have been in place, the FSSAI on 3 November 2021 finally introduced a framework for foreign manufacturing facilities that bring food items to India with the aim to improve food safety.
As a first step, all facilities manufacturing and exporting certain food products to India will need to register with FSSAI.
The governing body is expected to update the categories of the food products on a regular basis based on its risk assessment.
The registration, according to the notification, will be issued for a two-year period.
The notification also added that, “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 FSSAI in the notification also mentioned that no inspection shall be required in case of such categories of food that are covered under mandatory Bureau of Indian Standards Certification Mark Scheme and where the Bureau of Indian Standards scheme of inspection includes the requirements specified under Schedule 4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
A leading Indian importer said, “We look forward to reading the fine print 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.”
The new amendment is in line with regulations adopted by other international food safety agencies like FDA.
The regulations also come at a time with leading experts in India pointing to the increase in consumption of ultra-processed packaging food leading to obesity and health risks in children.