INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has announced a new more stringent regulatory framework for foreign facilities that transport food to India in order to ensure the safe import of food products.

The Food Safety and Standards (Import) First Amendment Regulations, 2021 have been published consequent to a year of consultations with industry stakeholders, amending the 2017 regulations.

According to the regulations, foreign food manufacturing facilities that produce certain kinds of products for export to India will be required to register with the FSSAI and may be subjected to inspection by Indian food safety officials.

The regulations are already enforced by international food safety authorities, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As stated by the FSSAI, depending on its risk assessment, it will designate the types of food items for which multinational factories must register with the regulator from time to time.

“Foreign food production establishments falling under such categories that wish to export such articles of food to India must register with the food authority before doing so,” the regulation announcement continued.

The registration is for a period of two years. For facilities that require registration, officials from FSSAI and relevant ministries, organizations, departments, or recognized auditing agencies shall be nominated by the food authority to inspect the facilities.

The amended law states that for food categories 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, no inspection will be required.

In addition, the cost of inspection shall be charged to the foreign manufacturer being scrutinized.

Despite having gained registration, these industrial facilities are subject to an inspection anytime as deemed necessary. The FSSAI stated that foreign food production facilities that do not comply with food safety laws may have their registrations revoked or suspended.

“We look forward to reading the fine print as the legislation indicates that FSSAI would publish a list of high-risk products from time to time,” said Amit Lohani, Founder-Director, Forum of Indian Importers.

Forum of Indian Importers (FIFI) is a non-government, and a not for profit entity that works primarily to enhance food and beverage business in India. Amit noted that FIFI’s members work hard to provide Indian consumers with food safety-compliant goods and are aware of the motivation behind this action.

“We hope, however, that this does not result in a non-tariff trade barrier, and that imported goods are not subject to a different set of requirements than products of similar categories created in India,” he said.

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