India’s Food Regulator Issues Guidelines on Organic Food

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India published a regulatory framework  to  ensure  the authenticity of foods that are labeled as ‘organic.’

According to the Food  Safety  and  Standards  (Organic  Foods) Regulations, 2017, no person or business may manufacture, pack, sell, offer for sale, market, or otherwise distribute or import any organic foods unless they comply with the requirements laid down under these regulations.

1) Any food offered or promoted for sale as ‘organic food’ shall comply with all the provisions of one of the following:

a) The National Program for Organic Production – this body is administered by the Government  of India to promote organic farming in the country. Among its many mandates are:

  • being the nodal quality control laboratory for analyzing organic fertilizers
  • revising standards and testing protocols
  • providing financial assistance  for agro-waste compost production units, bio-fertilizers/bio-pesticides production units
  • development and implementation of quality control regimes
  • promoting organic farming in the country through technical capacity building of all the stakeholders including human resource development, transfer of technology, promotion and production of quality organic and biological inputs

b) The Participatory Guarantee System for India – This is a part of an internationally applicable organic quality assurance system called the Participatory Guarantee System. The system certifies organic products that maintain quality standards, including ensuring that the cultivation and production process is done according to standards stipulated for organic products. The products are certified as organic in the form of a documented logo or a statement.

c) Any other system or standards as may be notified by the Food Authority from time to time.

2) The regulation mandates that all organic foods carry accurate  information on the  organic status  of the produce as well as a certification mark or a quality assurance mark given by recognized certification bodies.

3) Food marketed through direct sale by the original producer or producer organization to the end  consumer is exempted from verification compliance; however, this exemption does not apply to processed organic products.

4) All organic foods will need to comply with the packaging and labeling requirements specified under the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011.

5) Any seller of organic food either exclusively or as part of their retail merchandise is required to display such food in a manner distinguishable from the display of conventional food.

6) To establish the organic integrity of any food produce in question, investigations will be conducted up to the producer level.

7) Organic food imports will be permitted under bilateral or multilateral agreements on the basis  of  equivalence of standards between the National Program for Organic Production and the organic standards of the respective exporting countries; in such cases the products/produce will not need to be
re-certified on import to India

8)  All  imported organic food consignments will need to be accompanied  by a transaction certificate  issued  by  an Accredited Certification Body covered under the terms of the equivalence agreement.

Organically farmed fields

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Posted on by Gunjan Bagla
Gunjan Bagla
California-based management consultant Gunjan Bagla runs Amritt, a consulting firm helping American companies to succeed in India. Amritt is the trusted advisor for India market research, India business development, India market entry, Global Engineering, Global Technology Scouting, India R&D and Open Innovation. Gunjan is author of "Business in 21st Century India: How to Profit Today from Tomorrow’s Most Exciting Market" (Hachette Book Group, 2008), Amazon's top rated title on the subject. He has appeared as the India Expert on BBC Television, Bloomberg TV, Fox Cable Business and has been quoted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Business Week for his expertise on India.

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