The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (“FSSAI”), vide its notification dated 3 November 2021, has amended the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017 by bringing into force the Food Safety and Standards (Import) (First Amendment) Regulations, 2021. These regulations shall become effect from 3 November 2021 and the Food Business Operator shall be required to comply with the new requirements with effect from 1 June 2022.
Under the amended regulations, the Foreign Food Manufacturing Facilities intending to export certain food products to India will be required to obtain registration with FSSAI, which will be subject to inspection by the food safety officials and suspension or cancellation in case of any non-compliance with the law in India regarding food safety and standards. The new regime is similar to the protocols being followed by international food safety regulators / agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration.
- Registration: The FSSAI may from time-to-time based on its risk specify the categories of food products intended for export to India for further regulatory control in terms of mandatory registration with the regulator. The Foreign Food Manufacturing Facilities falling under the said categories desirous to export such articles of food to India shall be required to register with FSSAI before exporting to India. They may apply for registration either directly or through authorised representative in “Form 16” along with the prescribed documents.
- Inspection: The Foreign Food Manufacturing Facilities may be inspected if required in a manner specified by the FSSAI. The inspection can be done even after the registration has been obtained by the said facilities. It is to be noted 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.
- Validity of registration and it renewal, suspension or cancellation: The registration shall be valid for two (2) years which may be renewed in the prescribed manner. If Foreign Food Manufacturing Facility or their food products intended for export to India are found not to be in compliance of Food Safety and Standards Act, rules and regulation made there-under, their registration shall be suspended or cancelled. However, the FSSAI may review the same after giving opportunity for hearing or clarification, as deemed fit.
Alpha Rajan & Partners Comments:
The new regulatory framework envisaging mandatory registration of the Foreign Food Manufacturing Facilities exporting certain food products to India is intended to be implemented by FSSAI from 1 June 2022 in order to ensure safe import of food products.