In order to uphold the motto "Ensuring quality standards of goods manufactured and imported into the country," FSSAI has been implementing a number of actions to protect the quality of food manufactured or imported into India.
In an attempt to accomplish the above set objectives, FSSAI issued an order on August 3, 2022, requiring Health Certificate for specific imported food items including imported milk and milk products, via order F.No.1829/Health Certificate/FSSAI/Imports/2021.
The FSSAI order further stated that only the Competent Authority of the relevant exporting country from which milk and milk products are exported shall be eligible to issue the “Health Certificate”.
The Health Certificate awarded by the exporting countries’ Competent Authority in respect to the concerned imported milk and milk products shall be valid only for a period of 90 days from the date of its issuance.
CRITERIA FOR ISSUANCE OF HEALTH CERTIFICATE W.R.T. MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS
Annexure-I of FSSAI 3rd August 2022 Order further outlines the format of Mandatory health certificate which shall attest that the competent authority of the exporting country has issued the certificate following satisfaction of certain general and food-related compliances as below:
I. General conditions:
a) The source animals shall not be fed with feed containing meat or bone meal including internal organs, blood meal and tissues of bovine or porcine origin materials except milk and milk products.
b) Has/have not been manufactured using animal rennet.
II. Sanitary /Food Safety related:
a) were manufactured at (an) establishment(s) that has/have been approved by, or otherwise determined to be in good regulatory standing with the Competent Authority in the exporting country.
b) complies with the standards of milk and milk products as specified under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
c) prepared, packed, held and transported prior to export under good hygienic conditions and an effective food safety control system, implemented within the context of HACCP systems where appropriate and in accordance with the requirements specified in Schedule 4, as applicable, of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011 (India) and such other guidelines as specified from time to time under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.
d) conforms to the microbiological requirements specified in Appendix '8' of Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. The milk has been processed to a temperature, which ensures destruction of organisms causing Tuberculosis, Listeriosis, Para tuberculosis, Q fever and Brucellosis.
e) does not contain drug/ antibiotics/mycotoxins/pesticides/heavy metal residues etc., above the limits prescribed by the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011.
f) contains only those food additives as specified in Appendix 'A' of Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 within the limits specified.
g) regular inspection/monitoring of checks in accordance with FSS Act, 2006, rules and Regulations made thereunder and as per the criteria specified by FSSAI.”
SHIFT IN DATE OF IMPLEMENTATION
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India initially stated that health certificates would be required for imported milk and milk products starting on November 1st, 2022.
However following the promulgation of above direction, the FSS Authority in order to solicit feedback from World Trade Organization stakeholders further notified the mandate to WTO member countries on August 18, 2022.
Post seeking such comments, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India notified the last minute change in the effective date for implementation of obligatory health certificate to January 1, 2023.
The FSS Authority also noted that the reason for the prolongation is due to the feedback received from WTO members regarding obtaining adequate implementation time for issuance of Health Certificate by Competent Authorities.