Upon receiving reports of the entry of imported food items into the markets without the requisite approvals, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is conducting an enquiry into the matter.
The apex regulator began conducting surveys across markets in metropolitan cities such as Delhi and Mumbai to seek information about such foods and their importers, and is now doing so in other cities.
A senior FSSAI official said, “Such food items are under the scanner. Samples are being collected from various marketplaces to establish the chain. These food items are not legally imported into India.”
“There is no information about the product, its license number, etc., which is mandatory under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, for its sale in India,” he added, stating that the results of the investigations were yet to be declared.
In fact, a number of food items have not just managed to the enter the country, but even the exports consignments that have been rejected have also managed to find their way into the domestic markets.
FSSAI has received a number of complaints, particularly about water (which is tested on a number of parameters according to ISO standards). However, despite failing the tests, several consignments have found their way into the domestic markets.
Another official with the apex regulator stated that once the consignment is rejected at the export inspection stage, it is not allowed to be exported. “Or if the importer asks for fresh tests, these are carried out,” he added.
“And only if the products comply with the regulations of the country to which they are to be exported, they are cleared. If they are not found to be upto the standards, it is ordered that they be destroyed,” the official said.
He added, “If the products are FSSAI-compliant, they are allowed to be sold in the local markets.” If the consignments are not destroyed legally, this could attract a punishment, including a fine and revoking of licenses.
The official stated that to ensure the safety of the product that has been rejected for export but is FSSAI-compliant, an undertaking is signed by the food business operator (FBO) before the inspection.
“It states that if products are not found to be compliant with the FSSAI standards, it may stop the circulation of the same and impose a heavy penalty or ban or terminate the license,” he added.