INDIA – The European Union (EU) is seeking clarification about India’s implementation of packaging standards under the Food Safety and Standards Act, after about 200 tonnes of imported food items were blocked.
In October 2013, India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority blocked EU food imports on the grounds that the goods only had information stickers pasted on packages. Instead, the agency said that all nutritional information should now be printed on the packaging before they are shipped to India, in compliance with new labelling regulations under the Food Safety and Standards Act.
With about 200 tonnes of imported cheeses, chocolates and other food items stopped at the ports, Joao Cravinho, the EU ambassador to India, has written to the Indian government seeking clarification on the new rules.
“The food safety concerns are legitimate. We have no issues about that,” stressed Cravinho. “We need to find a manner in which these issues can be addressed, without prejudicing trade. Otherwise, these could constitute non-tariff barriers.”
Local media quoted an official who explained, “Why should they have stickers? Stickers are temporary measures. When our (regulations) are clearly laid out, companies must print them on the packs that are to the shipped to the country.
“Stickers often (fall off) during transit or at times there are several stickers pasted on one pack,” he added.
No official statement by the Indian government has been made so far, and it is unclear how long it would take to resolve this issue. Local media speculate that it is unlikely a resolution would be made in time for the Christmas and New Year festive season in India, when around half of the year’s imported packaged foods are sold.