Monday, 23 December 2013

Food Safety and Standards Act

Sh Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare
As per regulation 2.2.1 of Food Safety and Standard (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011 every package shall carry a label containing information as prescribed under Regulation 2.2.2. 

As per Regulation 2.2.1(4), the label shall be applied in such a manner that they will not become separated from the container. Further, as per Regulation 2.3.2, the labelling information shall be given on the principal display panel of the package or container in the following manner: 

(i) All information should be grouped together and given at one place, OR the pre-printed information be grouped together and given in one place and, 

(ii) Online information or those not pre-printed be grouped together in another place.” 

However, in imported food articles alone, name and complete address of the importer and declaration regarding Veg/Non-veg is allowed in the form of sticker even after arrival of consignment under the supervision of Customs Authorities. 

Moreover, the recent direction given in the case of M/s Rajputana Distributors v/s Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Others by the Madras High Court Order dated 23.09.2011 in W.P. No.19279 of 2011 is complied with by FSSAI. The operative portion of the judgment is reproduced below: 

“As far as the issue in question is concerned, the goods imported are food products, that too, chocolates, which are normally consumed by children and the conditions stipulated with regard to labelling, have admittedly, not been complied with the petitioner. Even as per the stand of the learned counsel for the petitioners, the information furnished is only by way of a sticker. 

But as per the provisions of the Act, the label must be an inseparable one, as otherwise, to suit the convenience; the importer may fill in any information therein.

 If the goods imported, especially food products, do not satisfy the specifications mentioned in the act at the time of import then such goods have to be restrained from being brought into the market and in the case on hand, the food products are chocolates, which are normally consumed by children and therefore, safety measures are mandatory. If the conditions imposed with regard to the import of food items are violated, then the question of going to the next stage, i.e. sending them for laboratory testing will not arise at all.” 

After enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) started implementation of the Food Import Clearance System (FICS) under Section 47 (5) of the Act at five port locations, namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Cochin. At other ports, this function is carried out by the Port Health Officers/Customs Authorities. 

In some import consignments referred by Customs to FSSAI for grant of NOC for customs clearance, samples were not drawn for testing inter alia due to non-compliance with the labelling requirements prescribed under Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2011.

 Examples of such labelling non-compliances are either absence of the list of ingredients, nutritional information, name & address of the manufacturer, Best Before/Use by Date, declaration regarding food additives, etc. or such information is on attached stickers which are separable. 

This was stated by Sh Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today. 

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