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FSSAI asks customs dept to check imports of sweets, chocolates, cereals

13,October, 2016

Mumbai: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked the customs department to keep an eye on the the imports of sweets, chocolates and cereals raising concerns over the sale and distribution of food business operators (FBOs) not complying with the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, at the points of entry, in the wake of the approaching Diwali season.

Sabita Jaiswal, assistant director (imports), FSSAI, said, “The enforcement authorities at the points of entry are always directed to keep a check on the imported products, especially on festive seasons.”

“A recent meeting held in this regard concluded that FSSAI should submit a list of the the officers who collect samples to the customs department. Some officers have already reported the delays in the system.” she added.

FSSAI and customs officers are jointly directed to collect and examine the samples at the point of entry during the season.

Speaking on the sampling, Jaiswal said, “Currently, FSSAI officers are located at customs ports at Tuglakabad, Patparganj, IGI Airport, Faridabad, Ballabhgarh, Loni and Dadri. The officers are directed to ensure there was no delay in taking samples for examination from these centres.”

The customs department is also keen to establish a single-window clearance system for the goods where the test reports by FSSAI are positive which will cut down the delay.

The Central Board of Excise has issued a circular to the officers to make it clear that the facility of labelling of imported goods in bonded warehouses had already been provided to importers subject to certain procedural conditions. The officers are directed to keep a vigil on all the points of entry.

Amit Lohani, convenor, Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI), said, “The importers have issued with the time consumed at the point of entry. The food products which are positive or the ones which pass the tests should be cleared faster. Earlier, it was promised that risk-based analysis will take place at the point of entry but it is yet carried under pro rata basis.”

“Actually the situation is very different on the ground. On an average, it takes around 15-20 days for clearance of an import consignment,” he added.

Lohani also concluded that the importers are themselves supporting the establishment of the single-window clearance system at all levels.

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