The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulation 2017, making it mandatory for importers to obtain its license.
"We are happy that FSSAI has been able to finalise the regulations for imports of food items. This will bring an end to all uncertainties regarding food imports into the country," FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal told PTI.
In the new regulations, which was notified earlier this month, the FSSAI said: "No article of food shall be cleared from the customs unless it has a valid shelf life of not less than 60 per cent at the time of import".
Shelf life means the period between the date of manufacture and the 'Best Before' or 'Date of expiry', whichever is earlier as printed on the label, FSSAI said.
It specified that no person shall import any food article without an import license from the Central Licensing Authority in accordance with the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
FSSAI said it has brought the regulation with an aim to streamline the process of clearance of imported food in an efficient and transparent manner.
It includes provisions related to licensing of food importer; clearance of imported food by the Food Authority; storage, inspection and sampling of imported food.
Besides, the new regulations have provisions for laboratory analysis of samples of imported food, prohibition and restriction on food imports, and amenable food labelling provision for ease of trade.
"The regulation also specifies the scheme for risk based sampling of imported food articles, which facilitates ease of doing business while not compromising the health of Indian public," the regulator said.
FSSAI further said that its officials at the customs can reject consignments which do not comply with the provisions of Labeling and Packaging Regulations, 2011 at the visual inspection, without drawing any sample.
However, these rules will not apply to individuals bringing food items for personal use provided that the value of such products does not exceed the amount allowed by customs from time to time.