New Delhi, March 20: The central food safety regulator today said that imported food items would not be allowed to enter the Indian market without a valid shelf life of at least 60 per cent at the time of import.
The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has in a notification on import rules also made licences mandatory for imports. It has specified the shelf-life period to curb the entry of food too close to dates beyond which it cannot be consumed.
The shelf life is the period between the dates of manufacture and the "Best Before ..." or "Date of Expiry ...", beyond which the food should not be consumed.
"We have finalised the regulations for imports of food items. This (notification) will bring an end to all uncertainties regarding food imports into the country," FSSAI chief executive officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal told PTI.
India has a vast market for imported food products that range from chocolates and packaged breakfast cereals to edible oils and snacks.
The rules specify that no one shall import food items without an import licence from a central licensing authority, and that no food shall be cleared by customs unless it has a valid shelf life of at least 60 per cent.
The notification also specifies a "risk-based sampling" of imported food which, the FSSAI said, "facilitates ease of doing business while not compromising the health of the Indian public".
The FSSAI may order revocation of an import licence if the importer is found to have tried to import unsafe food articles or engaged in re-channelling or repacking.
The new rules provide for laboratory analyses of samples of imported food and prohibitions or restrictions on food imports.
The rules will not apply to individuals bringing food items for personal use provided their value does not exceed the amount specified by customs authorities.