UNDERSTANDING OF FOOD SAFETY MECHANISMS OVERSEAS VITAL FOR MULTIPLYING INDIA’S AGRO AND FOOD EXPORTS
RULES FOR FOOD EXPORTS TO US TO CHANGE BY YEAR END
Date : 17 Jan 2003
Location : New Delhi
India has a potential for multiplying her food exports manifold provided the exporters understand the complexity of food safety mechanisms put in place by India’s trading partners like USA. This was stated by Shri L.V. Saptharishi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry who chaired the session. While WTO Agreements, specifically the SPS Agreement, have laid down rules for international trade in the food sector, it is the responsibility of all countries to ensure safety of foods exported to other countries since human health was involved, he added.
The rules for export of food products to USA are set to change by the end of year 2003 in the light of the enactment of Bio-terrorism Act and all exporters would have to comply with these rules to be able to export to USA. This was informed by US officials during interactive session for Indian exporters with representatives of US food regulatory bodies organised by the Export Inspection Council of India (EIC) in Delhi today.
Nearly 100 exporters and organisations related with Indian exports like commodity boards, export promotion councils and industry associations participated in the session which had a team of US officials from US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA), two of USA’s official regulatory import control bodies, led by Mr. Chad R. Russell, Agricultural Counselor from American Embassy in India while the Indian side comprised Shri A. K. Thakur, Joint Secretary in-charge of agricultural exports in Ministry of Commerce and Ms. Shashi Sareen, Director, EIC.
Ms. Sareen informed the audience during the session that EIC has initiated a dialogue with USFDA for recognition of EIC’s certification for various food and agricultural products regulated by them so that such products exported from India and accompanied by EIC’s certificates are allowed entry into USA without further inspection and testing on arrival. It may be added that under an agreement between USA and India in 1988, USFDA already recognises EIC’s certification for Black Pepper exported to its market.
US officials informed that imports of meat and poultry meat products in USA are subject to stringent phytosanitary measures and that USDA has a system of assessing equivalence of inspection systems of the exporting countries with its own systems for which any request from India would be duly considered.
Meat products are already under compulsory export inspection and certification and poultry meat and poultry meat products have been recently brought under the ambit of compulsory export certification of EIC by the Central Government under Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act.
The exporters highlighted the need for taking up recognition of EIC’s certification for products like poultry meat products, basmati rice, spices etc. on an urgent basis.
During the session, Indian exporters raised various problems relating to exports to USA like detention of goods, destruction of consignments after testing, lack of direct access for exporters to deal with USFDA in case of any problems and lack of information on USFDA’s requirements for individual products. They also requested that there should be a body responsible for providing information on regulatory requirements of importing countries and also taking up quality and safety related issues with their regulatory bodies. Shri Thakur assured the exporting community that Ministry of Commerce would take up all such problems raised during the session for resolving them to mutual satisfaction.