Under the new management of CEO Pawan Agarwal, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is pushing new rules and modifying existing stringent ones. The testing of imported edible items is the new change on the agenda with FSSAI recommending testing only 10% of all imported food. The earlier rule stated that all imported edible items needs to go through checks.
According to Hindustan Times, the FSSAI will gather a list of high and low-risk imports from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and will base its assessment on risk-based sampling. Speaking to Hindustan Times about the new change, Agarwal stated that “the risk of a food or beverage is determined by three parameters: category of the food, country from where it has been sourced and credibility of the importer and manufacturer. The list of high-risk products from the DGFT include milk and dairy products, baby food, tea and coffee and cereals.
Currently, FSSAI will determine checking imported items based on the list curated by the DGFT with Agarwal stating that the board will gather up its own list in coming months. The high-risk category items will be tested under FSSAA-guidelines. The most frequently tested food products, dairy items, will continue to be tested since the products are perishable. The testing of edible items will also be based on the country of origin and will be determined based on the risk score of the country. “We will take out the data on background of each country in terms of exporting high and poor quality products to India. Mostly this list would include the under-developed or lesser developed countries, ” added Agarwal.
Testing of low-risk items such as alcohol and tobacco will be more flexible during the process as they usually are exported by reputable brands and manufacturers. Anil Kumar Bhushan noted that these new rules will help ease the mode of doing business for more international brands in India. “We welcome this move as it will increase ease of doing business. The fact that FSSAI is cognizant of the importer and the manufacturer, it is good. Alcohol is the least risky as most of it is imported from reputed brands that have honed their reputation over years, ” added Bhushan.