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6.   QUALITY CONTROL & PRE-SHIPMENT
      INSPECTION

 

ESTABLISHMENT & ROLE

The Export Inspection Council of India (EIC) was set up by the Government of India under Section 3 of the Export (Quality Control & Inspection) Act, 1963 as an apex body to provide for sound development of export trade through quality control and pre-shipment inspection. The Act empowers the Central Government to notify commodities and their minimum standards for exports, generally international standards or standards of the importing countries and to set up a suitable machinery for inspection and quality control. EIC is assisted in its functions by the Export Inspection Agencies (EIAs) located at Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai having a network of 42 sub-offices and laboratories to back up the pre-shipment inspection and certification activity.

The main functions of EIC are to advise the Central Government regarding measures to be taken for enforcement of quality control and inspection in relation to commodities intended for export and to draw up programmes for quality control and inspection of commodities for exports. EIC, either directly or through Export Inspection Agencies, its field organisations, renders services in the areas of Certification of quality of export commodities through installation of quality assurance systems (In-process Quality Control and Self-Certification) in the exporting units as well as consignment-wise inspection and Food Safety Management Systems in the food processing units as per international standards, Issue of Certificates of Health and Certificates of Authenticity to exporters, Issue of Certificate of Origin to exporters under various preferential tariff schemes, Laboratory testing and Training and technical assistance to the industry in installation of Quality and Safety Management Systems based on principles of HACCP, ISO-9001: 2000, ISO:17025 and other related areas.

In the WTO regime, as India's trading partners are installing regulatory import controls, EIC has refashioned its role to introduce voluntary certification programmes besides regulatory export control, especially in food sector, and is seeking recognition for EIC's certification by official import control agencies of its trading partners, as per provisions of WTO agreements, to facilitate easier access to their markets for Indian exporters.

EIC has a Chairman and 17 members nominated by the Central Government with Director (Inspection & Quality Control), EIC as Member Secretary, who is also the Chief Executive of the organisation. EIC is located at YMCA Cultural Centre Building at New Delhi while the EIAs and sub-offices are located all over the country. During the year, a ready built space was procured for the EIA-Chennai office and plots of land at Delhi and Kochi for construction of the offices of respective EIAs.

Notification OF COMMODITIES

Final Notification on export of Bivalve Molluscs was published as also amendments to Notifications on fish and fishery products, egg products and honey to incorporate provisions for maximum residue limits. A Notification amending the standard on basmati rice was also published.

EXPORT CERTIFICATION SYSTEMS

The main systems of export inspection and certification being followed by EIC include Consignmentwise inspection (CWI), In-process quality control (IPQC), Self-certification (SC), and Food Safety Management Systems based Certification (FSMSC).

Food Safety Management Systems based Certification has been aligned with international standards on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) / Good Management Practices (GMP) / General Health Practices (GHP) in the areas of fish & fishery products, egg products, milk products, poultry products and honey. Under CWI samples, based on a laid down sampling plan are drawn from the consignment, offered for inspection and tested against the specified standards. The other three schemes follow a systems approach, which involves approval of the units followed by periodic surveillance by EIAs.

The value of exports certified under each of the above systems is given below:

IMPLEMENTATION OF CERTIFICATION IN THE FOOD SECTOR

Fish & Fishery Products

In this area, 393 Fish and fishery products processing units (145 for EU and 217 for Non-EU and 31 live fish processing units for Non EU) were on the approved list. All consignments of shrimps meant for export to EU were issued health certificate only after testing and clearance for banned antibiotics.

Egg Products & Honey

Under the system, four units of egg were approved by EIC/EIAs. Amendment to the Export of Egg Product (Quality Control, Inspection and Monitoring) Rules, 1997 was published on 19 Dec 2003 by Govt of India banning usage of certain unauthorised substances, veterinary drugs & pharmacologically active substances at all stages of production and export of egg products. The amendments also give powers to the Council to take assistance of APEDA or any other organisation approved by it for residue monitoring. Govt. of India issued a similar final notification to include MRLs for veterinary drugs, other substances, environmental & other contaminants in honey also on 19 December 2003.

Milk Products

During 2003-2004, 42 units were on the approved list. Further, a Residue Monitoring Plan (RMP), prepared to monitor the residue status of milk products was implemented by EIC through the Export Inspection Agencies (EIAs). The RMP as forwarded to EC is being implemented on yearly basis for the Milk units approved under the notification. The testing data under the RMP is under compilation.

RAW (chilled/frozen) Meat, Processed Meat and Animal Casings

EIC/EIAs are proposing to initiate certification in the area of Raw (chilled/ frozen) Meat, Processed Meat and Animal Casings and have developed a scheme based on a system of approval of Units. In the area of Poultry Meat and Meat Products, two units applied for approval of which one unit was approved.

Other Schemes

Work has been initiated to develop voluntary schemes in the areas of Quality Control and Inspection for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Exports, HACCP and Organic Certification Schemes.

CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN

Certificates of Origin are non-contractual instruments through which tariff concessions are extended to goods originating in specific countries. There are six Schemes under which goods originating in India are accorded preferential duty treatment by importing countries namely Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), Generalised System of Trade Preferences (GSTP), Bangkok Agreement, SAARC Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA), Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) and Indo Afghanistan Free Trade Agreement (IAFTA).

EIC, through EIAs, continued to issue a major share of Certificates of Origin under various preferential tariff schemes in India. Around 8 lakhs Certificates of Origin were issued, during the current financial year which is around 1 lakh more than in the previous year.

In this area the officials of European Court of Auditors visited India from 18 to 22 Dec 2003 to examine the norms laid down and procedures being followed in issuance of GSP certificates for European Union. The team expressed satisfaction with regard to implementation of the system in India.

LAB TESTING ACTIVITIES

In order to ensure acceptability of test results of EIA laboratories internationally, it is essential that the international standard for quality system for laboratories i.e. ISO:17025 is implemented. EIAs have prepared the basic document i.e. Quality Manual, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) etc. and are in a phase of stabilising these. In the next financial year, all documentation work as required under this standard would be completed and EIA laboratories could go for accreditation under National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

The statistics in respect of number of samples tested are as given below:

2002-03     2003-04

58042        52201

To supplement the test facilities of EIAs, 5 labs have been approved by EIC namely SGS-Chennai, SIIR-Bangalore and Delhi, Geochem-Mumbai and CIPET Chennai for various products /parameters. During the year, Tea Board has enlisted Thoppumpady Laboratory, EIA-Kochi for Quality Assurance of Tea on voluntary basis. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has initiated a project on Networking of Food Laboratories to cope with the work load of testing of imported food items. Based on an on-site assessment, EIA's labs at Chennai, Kochi and Kolkata as well as PTH were identified for such testing. The supervisory officers as well as analysts from these labs were given training in Central Food Laboratories in Kolkata, Mysore and Pune during the year 2002-03 and 2003-04. Pilot Test House continued its recognition by the Bureau of Indian Standards under its Laboratory Recognition Scheme for testing of five electrical products as per relevant Indian Standards.

EIC Inspection Agency Recognition Scheme

EIC continues to recognize Inspection Agencies under the provisions of Section 7(1) of Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, 1963. The Scheme has been aligned with the international standard on acceptance of inspection bodies, ISO/IEC 17020:1998, to make the same internationally acceptable w.e.f. 1 February 2002. 51 inspection agencies have applied for recognition as per fresh norms out of which 18 Agencies have been audited and 7 recognised and for the others, the exercise is in progress.

HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

Training is an important component of building up human resources, both of the industry as well as within the organisation. This aspect is being taken care of by the Human Resources and Quality Development Centre (HR&QDC), which was set up in the organisation in May 2000. EIC has organised training programmes and seminars for its own personnel as well as industry. For its own personnel training was organised in the areas of Certificate of Origin. Refresher Training Programmes for Fish & Fishery certifying officers, Quality Management Systems, besides rice certification, milk quality control and testing, computerisation, administration, accounts and vigilance. More than 500 officials were given training in above areas.

14 Programmes were organised during the year for exporters on Quality Certification and Certificates of Origin to make them aware about the provisions of various Preferential Tariff Schemes, the Rules of Origin and the procedure for issue of such certificates by EIC/EIAs, as also certification activities. Two programmes were also organised in educational institutions namely Haryana Agriculture University, Hissar and Fortune Institute of International Business, New Delhi.

Officials were trained in Basmati Rice, HACCP & Milk Products for Certifying/ Monitoring and Testing activities including, Quality Management Systems, Administrative, Vigilance and Accounts functions and Computer.

INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Participation in International Events

EIC/EIAs officials participated in "Second International Workshop on Microbiological risk Assessment and Mitigation" from 19-23 May 2003 at Paris, France, "5th World Fish Inspection & Quality Control Congress" from 19-23 October 2003 at The Hague, Netherlands and Codex meetings including 26th Session of Codex Committee on Fish & Fishery Products held from 11-17 October 2003, Aluesund, Norway; Drafting Group Meeting of Principals for Microbiological Risk Management, from 3-6 June 2003 at Brussels, Drafting Group meeting for revision of document relating to exchange of information in food safety emergency situations held in Brussels in August 2003, 12th session of the Codex Committee on food Import and Export Inspection & Certification Systems held in Brisbane from 1 to 5 December 2003, HPLC MSMS training in USA from 1-4 December, 2003 & Sanitation Control Procedure and HACCP training in Thailand, Bangkok from 27-30 January, 2004

Assessment by EC & USFDA teams

A team comprising 4 inspectors from Food and Veterinary office of European Commission visited India from 14 to 22 October 2003 to assess the adequacy of implementation of the Residue-Monitoring Plan (RMP) in aquaculture farms, egg and Honey processing areas. The team visited fish processing plants, egg processing plants, layer hen farms, aquaculture farms, feed mixing plants, a honey collection centre and veterinary drugs outlets and also interacted with private veterinary practitioners . The team also visited various laboratories of CIFT-Kochi, EIA-Chennai and MPEDA-Kochi besides two privately owned laboratories at Bangalore and Delhi.

Assessment report of the team with recommendation had been received and the same has been circulated for compliance by all concerned including EIAs and processing units and is being monitored by the Competent Authority regularly.

A team comprising 3 delegates from USFDA visited India from 5 to 28 September, 2003 to assess the approved Fish & Fishery Products (F&FP) establishments with a view to ensure that HACCP is being properly implemented. The team visited 10 approved plants located at Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi have given their observations/suggestions which are being implemented by the units.

MOUs/ Agreements with Overseas Bodies

EIC continued its activities towards working with overseas governments for negotiating Agreements in the area of Conformity Assessments. Some significant highlights relating to MOUs on which actions have been initiated by EIC during the year are given below:

(i) Mutual Recognition Agreement with Singapore : Under this Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), significant progress has been made during the year. The Sectors identified include food & agricultural products; electric and electronic products; telecommunication equipment and drugs & pharmaceuticals;

(ii) MOU with Nepal

EIC has initiated dialogue with Nepal Department of Commerce, both for recognition of EIC certification by their relevant authorities and also for implementing an export certification scheme in their country and working with the Indian Health and other authorities for acceptance of the products under such certification without re-inspecting and testing at importing end. Some discussions with the Nepal authorities and trade have been already held by Director, EIC who visited Nepal in November and during the Commerce Secretary level ICC talks. The Nepalese side also visited India form 22-24 March 2004 to assess EIC's certification system specifically for dairy sector.

(iii) MOU with Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), Sri Lanka.

A team from SLSI, Sri Lanka visited India to assess EIC's system of certification in May 2003, the formal report of which is still awaited. In the meantime, Secretary level talks were held between the two countries on 18-19 July 2003, wherein the Sri Lankan side confirmed that the report has been accepted and the Sri Lankan side agreed to send the same. Thereafter the MOU would be made operational. It was also agreed that a reciprocal MOU would be signed for recognition of their export certification to meet Indian import requirements. This would however require SLSI to set up an export certification scheme, which India would recognise.

Others

Further, MOUs on Conformity Assessment with Korea, Bangladesh, Libya, Thailand, Mexico, Israel, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Australia for extension of scope etc. have been under discussion.

Corporate Audit

A system of corporate audit of all activities EIAs by EIC is in existence with the twin objectives of checking compliance to and effectiveness of our systems as well as building accountability. During the year, Corporate Audits were carried out at EIA-Kochi for Fish & Fish Products scheme and of Sub office Banglore for issue of Certificates of Origin, EIA Chennai for Fish & Fish Products, Milk and Egg Products scheme, EIA Mumbai for issue of Certificate of Origin and a comprehensive audit of EIA-Delhi for Milk and Rice Schemes including laboratory activities and for issue of Certificates of Origin.

COMPUTERIZATION ACTIVITIES

Under the Integrated Computerisation Project (ICP), System Requirements Specifications and Design documents for 19 modules have been studied and finalised. Software development work for web based centralised solution is in progress and is expected to be put in place very shortly.

VISIT OF RAJYA SABHA COMMITTEE ON SUBORDINATE LEGISLATION

A committee on subordinate legislation, Rajya Sabha discussed various matters on the export of milk products (Quality Control Inspection and Monitoring) Rules 2000 with the senior officials of   MOC & I and representatives of the Export Inspection Council of India at Mumbai on 4th 5th July, 2003.

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