FSSAI has issued an order on import of organic food products, directing all the state food authorities to reject all the imported food consignments which claimed to be organic, but do not comply with the food safety regulations.

The Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 was notified under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 in December 2017, and food business operators (FBOs) were directed to comply with all the provisions of the said regulation by July 2018.

Thus, as per FSSAI, all the food products imported to India, which claimed to be organic are supposed to comply with the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, in addition to the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017.

FSSAI, in its order, stated, “In case the imported food consignments do not comply with the organic regulations and above instructions, the same will be rejected and the importer or clearing house agent (CHA) will have to follow the due procedure of review application as in the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations.”

The order, meanwhile, spoke about the relaxation for the consignments which were exported to India before July.

“However, the import consignments claimed as organic food items, which were exported before July 2018, but have reached on or after July 2018, may be given relaxation for compliance to the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017,” the order said.

Pankaj Agarwal, managing director, Just Organik, said, “The recent notification by FSSAI on the imported organic products is a good initiative, as the demand for organic products is increasing in India and there are many products that are not grown in India. This is only possible now because of the Jaivik India norms coming into play for the first time from July 1, 2018. Before this, anyone could sell anything claiming it to be organic. So this is more consumer-centric approach.”

He added, “However, pushing for the Jaivik Bharat logo could be a big deterrent for some of the top brands to enter the market. This will be a completely new area for any foreign brand to come, and any packaging norms imposed by the importing country would need to show big potential. In place of the Jaivik Bharat logo, in the first phase, the internationally-accepted logos of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (if the produce is from the United States), EU (if the product is from the European Union) or any other, to which the Indian system has taken equivalence, should be allowed. Once the product finds a market, there will be every reason for the Indian importer to push the foreign brand to go for a local logo.”

After meeting several stakeholders, FSSAI, in June 2018, had allowed the use of non-detachable stickers with respect to the apex regulator’s organic logo up to September 30, 2018.

And, FBOs manufacturing, processing or handling organic food were asked to obtain licenses under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, or get the organic food endorsed in their existing licenses through the food licensing and registration system (FLRS) till September 30, 2018.