Since the inception of the green revolution after independence, India has been one of the biggest exporters of food and grain to the world. In our country, exporters of food products need FSSAI License to export food products to other countries. Considering the profitability in the business of exporting food products, many vendors have applied to get FSSAI certificates. In this text, we will look at the various requirements associated with engaging in food products export from the country.
Significance of FSSAI
Countries generally welcome food products with standard certification of FSSAI. The products that are deemed safe and fit for human consumption by FSSAI are preferred by importers. Thus, exporters generally prefer to meet the guidelines of the FSSAI and the standard laid down by them.
Export of unsafe or substandard food products not only impacts the health of the importing nation but also the global image of India as an exporter of products. It can thus affect our relationship with other countries and may lead to a halt in future associations in the long run. Thus, getting this License has been made compulsory for those dealing in food products. It gives assurance to both the importers and our government that the quality and hygiene standards have been met for the food products that are exported from our country.
Overview of FSSAI Food Licensing
It is a common form of certification that assures food is fit for human consumption. It also ensures there are no toxic or unwanted elements present in the food. Being a regulatory body working under the Health Ministry, FSSAI grants approval to exporters to conduct the export business.
With the FSSAI registration for export business, exporters of food products are also needed to acquire the import-export license and the NOC. Once the exporter receives government approval, then he can move ahead with exporting products whichever country he wants.
Food products that an exporter wants to export are required to be registered as a distinct entity, and the whole process of registration and approval might take some time. One may also apply for an FSSAI State License or Central License in case they want to pursue exporting food products outside the country. It should be noted that only certified food products can be exported from India. Moreover, any person starting a business of exporting food products is required to understand the complete procedure. They should also know the labelling requirements for food exports and relevant documents.
Who Requires FSSAI?
As per the norms of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, the following entities should obtain FSSAI registration:
- All types of food manufacturer
- Wholesale food business operators
- Food Storage Unit
- Online food business operator
- Food Packaging Unit
- Food traders
- Exporter and importer of food products
- Caters or hotel raw food material suppliers
- Transporter and distributors
- Food product retailers
Types of FSSAI License
A Food Business Operator or (FBO) has to apply for the license once his business exceeds a particular turnover. The type of license depends on the valuation of business and the type of business activity performed by the Food business operator.
There are three major license types:
Basic FSSAI Registration
This license is perfect for small vendors or food business operators. It is also referred to as the FSSAI Basic License. It is provided to FBOs with an annual turnover below 12 lakh rupees. All small size industries, retailers, storage units, etc. are included in this.
This type of license is for food manufacturers or suppliers with an annual turnover of 12+ lakh rupees to 20 crore rupees. This limit of turnover is similar to the limit for an FSSAI state manufacturing license or an FSSAI State trading license. All medium size industries, retailers, suppliers etc. are included in this.
The Central FSSAI License is compulsory for food businesses with an annual turnover of Rs. 20+ crore. All big manufacturers, export-oriented units, importers etc. are included in this.
FSSAI Food License Registration procedure
Procedure to Apply for Central License
- Check the eligibility criteria and if found eligible to apply for a central license, then fill the application.
- The data entered in the form must be accurate as per the document.
- The products mentioned must be approved from FSSAI Act, 2006.
- Choose the time period for which one wants to take the license.
- After the form is filled, pay the required fee.
Procedure to Apply for State License
- Check the eligibility criteria to ensure eligibility for the state license. Fill the application form to get a state license.
- The data entered in form has to be authentic.
- The products applied for in the license must be approved under the FSS Act, 2006.
- Choose the time-period for the license.
- Pay the prescribed fee after the form is filled.
The step by step guide below will help one understand the procedure to receive the license:
- Firstly get the company registered as a legal entity;
- Post that, get the Import Export Code;
- Apply for a No-Objection Certificate concerning the quality of food and other regulating compliances presented by the FSSAI. These norms take into account the health of consumers and related safety concerns from food;
- Get the approval related to the food product;
- In the end, obtain an export license from the central authority of Licensing.
Documents Required for Different FSSAI License
Documents for FSSAI basic License
- Passport-size photograph of the applicant;
- ID proof and PAN Card
- Address Proof
- Copy of property papers, in case the property is owned by the applicant
- Copy of rent agreement and NOC from the landlord if the property is on rent.
Documents for FSSAI State License
- Form B completed and signed by applicant
- Complete Layout of the location
- Contact details and the list of administrators/directors/partners
- Proof of possession of premises
- Details of the type of equipment used;
- List of food categories to be applied for manufacturing
- Authority letter with name and address of applicant
- NOC and copy of the license granted to manufacturer
- Food safety management system plan or related certificate.
Documents for FSSAI Central License
- Form B filled and signed by the proprietor or the applicant
- Layout of the location
- Contact details with list of directors/proprietors
- Details of the type of machinery or equipment used
- Proof of possession of premises (if any)
- NOC and copy of the license
- Analysis of water report to be used in the process
- Food safety management system plan or certificate
- Source of raw materials for organic meat, milk, etc.
- NOC from the municipality and local body
- NOC/PA issued by FSSAI
- IE code by DGFT for importers
- Supporting documents for turnover with transportation proof
- Declaration form.
Advantages of Getting an FSSAI License
The food business with FSSAI certification enjoys a number of benefits:
- Increased trust among perspective and established customers.
- The FSSAI logo creates goodwill among the consumers.
- It ensures the food products meet safety standards.
- Leads to business expansion.
- It helps in regulation, manufacturing, storage, and sale of food.
- It helps to create consumer awareness.
Labelling Requirements for Exporters
To make the food products acceptable in the international market, ensure that it’s packaging has sufficient information as per international standards. The exported food products packaging to must have the following information:
- Information related to the nutritional value and facts.
- The name of the food product with the name of the company and manufacturer.
- Product description.
- Name of the constituents.
- A declaration stating whether the product is vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
- Declaration related to food additives.
- Country of origin for imported products.
- The date of manufacturing and packaging.
- Best before time or the expiry date;
- Net weight/volume of the contents;
- The name of the exporter with address;
- User guidelines;
- Code and batch number.
The entity engaging in export of food products outside the country should meet the following labelling requirements. This is essential in order to be accepted in the international market. The Health Ministry keeps track of every exporter of food products activities and whether they are adhering to the guidelines and laid out compliances.
Documents Required to Export Food Products
The documents required to export food products from the country are:
- Narcotics certificate;
- FSSAI Registration Certificate;
- Import Export Code for Company;
- Permit from Ministry of Agriculture;
- Permit from the animal husbandry ministry.
- Certificate of product approval.
Obtaining a NOC for Export of Food Products
As stated above, before a food product is exported, its exporter should get an NOC. Having it paves the way for an exporter to get his/her FSSAI License for export of food products. If the exporter doesn’t have an NOC, he/she won’t be able to carry on with additional formalities related to export of food products.
To avail the NOC, an exporter must keep the documents ready. This includes the bill of entry, certificate of origin country, Import Export Code from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, and end use declaration with other important documents. One may apply for an NOC quite easily and pay the requisite amount for lab testing of the food. Following are the requirement of FSSAI should be fulfilled:
- At the time of lab clearance, the food products must have a good shelf-life;
- The sample must be free of insects or any fungal infestation;
- The exporter must comply with the Packaging and labelling Regulations 2011 of FSSAI.
If all of these requirements are satisfied, a No-Objection Certificate is granted by the authority.
Points to Remember for Applicants
- FSSAI License for exporters has 2 subcategories:
- Manufacturers of food products for export and
- Exporting traders/merchants.
A food business operator can apply for a license in either of the categories.
- The applicant trying to obtain the FSSAI exporter license must declare whether he deals in export only or conducts business in both domestic and export markets.
- The FBO has to ensure that the food products are fit and comply with the regulations of the importer country.
Norms of FSSAI for Organic Food Exports
In the previous few decades, our country has emerged as a key player of the global organic food market. Twenty years ago, our contribution to this food market was limited to only Tea exports. Now, we export 300+ products to 20+ countries. These exports combine to make approximately 135 million metric tonnes of certified food product exports.
Currently, we boast the highest number of organic food farmers and ranks 9th on the global list of land dedicated to organic farming. Many of our farmers are adopting organic farming and the states are also promoting such practices. For example, Sikkim has been declared as India’s first state with fully organic agriculture.
FSSAI Regulations Specified for Organic Food
Section 22, Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006 specifies that the organic food industry of the country will come under regulation of FSSAI. This is done to ensure there is a single food law to regulate the food industry in the country. It is widely acknowledged that organic food products have different regulations compared to other food products. Thus, after consultation with many industry-related experts, consultants, organisations, etc. the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations 2017 came into being. These regulations have covered existing certification systems including:
- Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India) under Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) of APEDA under Department of Commerce.
Along with the aforementioned systems, any other system developed or notified by Food authorities was also covered under these new regulations.
Applicability of Regulations
The regulations apply to any person or corporate body who is involved in manufacturing, re-packing, packaging, imports, sale, distribution, and marketing of organic food. All players of these sectors are covered under the regulations and are required to comply with it.
Who is not covered under Regulations?
Any small scale organic food producer or any organic food producer organization (specified from time to time by Food Authority) who are involved in marketing and sale of their organic food products to the end customers are exempted from compliance of these regulations.
Features of Organic Food Regulations
Every food product offered for export or distribution in the domestic market is required to comply with applicable provisions of the following systems.
- Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India).
- National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP).
- Any other system specified by the Food safety authority.
The regulations are divided into two parts;
- Labeling and Certification
- Imports & Reciprocity
Labeling Requirement Organic Food Vendors
While labeling organic food products it should be ensured that absolutely accurate information is specified on it. FSSAI’s Organic Logo must be printed on the label. Along with the FSSAI logo, the label should also carry quality assurance marks or certification marks of any other systems covered under organic food regulations.
The seller of organic food products must display them such that they are distinguished from other regular items. The organic food exporters and vendors must comply with all the other regulations notified under the FSSAI Act along with organic food regulations.
There is no re-certification for Organic products required for any imports done under any bilateral/multilateral agreements executed as per Indian National Programme for Organic Production. It is true for other similar organic food standards of exporting countries. However, this is subject to the fact that they meet the respective standards applied to them. And all such imports should be accompanied with a transaction certificate. The certificate should be issued by an accreditation body covering such agreements.
Certification Requirement for Organic Food Vendors
While choosing a product the consumer analyses quality, safety, taste, etc. Only after making an informed decision regarding the product, they decide to purchase it. However, when it comes to food products, they become extra conscious. While everyone is aware that organic food is good for health and environment and thus, for customers, taking the decision to invest in them needs firm assurance for the quality.
So, we can safely assume that certification brings the necessary trust of the consumers in the quality of the organic food product. The certification is compulsory to promote and sell organic food products. The certifications however require that the company complies with the standards of the authority.
The Food Safety and Standards Act states that all organic food products need to comply with NPOP and PGS-India provisions. As of now, there are 28 accreditation bodies authorized under NPOP and 562 Regional Councils established under PGS-India to give such certifications.
Need for FSSAI License Number
As mentioned before, starting any business requires a license from the company registrar. Similarly, before starting any food business operation in our country, obtaining a license is compulsory. All traders, restaurants, and manufacturers who are involved in the food business are needed to obtain the 14-digit license number. The licensing and registration procedures are regulated under the Food Safety act.
We learnt that this License to export food products is essential for any business. It leads to a sense of assurance about the product in the importing countries. The LICENSE is issued for a particular period, which can be extended by FSSAI renewal. The businesses seeking extension are recommended to apply for renewal within 30 days before the expiry of existing license.