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Feb, 04 2014

How healthy is gourmet labelling for food biz?

The import of gourmet food products in the country has been facing challenges and has come to a standstill due to tightening of the gourmet import policy by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that works under the Union ministry of health

Why there is a change in the policy?

The labelling requirement is not new. This requirement was published in 2011, almost three years back. We are not creating any new law or regulations but we are implementing what has been created for the safety and betterment of end consumers. We are simply implementing the requirements notified more than two years ago, and are focussed on promoting hygiene and allied standards for consumers here. If this law has been hurting anybody, objections should have been raised back then to ensure no unreasonable law is written. There is always a draft copy to any notification which has been issued. The draft notification is for public to comment. It is a regulation of 2011 which needs to be implemented in letter and spirit.

Kindly shed light on the regulation policy

The guidelines for labelling, among other things, include clearly stating the origin of the product and even the source. Original printing on the product pack meeting Indian requirements, and not just a stickered version, as has been the prevalent practice so far.There is nothing wrong in bringing products from other countries to India; however these products have to have manufacturing and expiry dates. The law in India says any product importing to India must have a balance shelf life of 60 days, to check that there has to be a manufacturing date. A sticker can't satisfy the need of having manufacturing date. Different products come to India with labels of different languages, it could be any language but that is not a language of India and then people want to get the products to be used in our retail stores. If it is for human consumption then the label should be in the language of the country. The law says the label should be in English or Hindi in Devnagari Script. Then how can we accept stickered product which could use any language but not Indian as it should have a label with the language of the country.

Don't you think people should be made aware of such laws and regulations more effectively?

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Consumers are expected to know the law and all the laws are on our website. We can't make 1.2 billion people to read the law; we can put it on the website. It is for the consumers to read. Having said this, I do agree that we need to organise more awareness programmes in the country-this is one way of creating awareness.

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