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FSSAI Introduces Central License for ‘E-commerce’ Food Business

The series of reports on sale of sub-standard food via food businesses listed on e-commerce service providers have pushed FSSAI to take stringent measures. In the past, FSSAI released Directions for e-commerce platforms to de-list the non-licensed or registered Food vendors and retailers. The popular e-commerce brands that were asked to take immediate such steps […]

The series of reports on sale of sub-standard food via food businesses listed on e-commerce service providers have pushed FSSAI to take stringent measures. In the past, FSSAI released Directions for e-commerce platforms to de-list the non-licensed or registered Food vendors and retailers. The popular e-commerce brands that were asked to take immediate such steps include Foodpanda, Swiggy, Zomato etc.

The FSSAI guidelines, operationalized in the month of February 2018 made it essential for e-commerce platforms to display FSSAI License or Registration number of the listed Food Business. It is mandatory to have a legal agreement between the Food Business Operators and the e-Commerce platforms to follow the Food Safety and Standards Regulation.

E-commerce platforms submitted the report on action taken, along with the details of FSSAI licenses of Food Businesses listed on their platforms to FSSAI to ensure the compliance with the guidelines. The concerned e-commerce platforms also initiated internal audits of the Food vendors, Food service establishments, Restaurants and Retailers listed by them.

In its recent step towards advanced traceability and to ensure regulated buying and selling of food products online (over digital and electronic network), the apex body has introduced “e-commerce” kind of business license in central category. This license is now a mandatory requirement for carrying out any food business related activity through the medium of e-commerce. For the purpose of this license FSSAI has defined the following two models of e-commerce business:

  • Inventory Based Model – Where the inventory and food service are owned by e-commerce FBO and is sold directly to the consumers.
  • Marketplace Based Model – E-commerce FBO is a facilitator of information technology platform to the buyer and seller/marketer/manufacturer.

The entities providing tertiary services such as storage, distribution or last mile delivery will also be included under the e-commerce FBO category.

In respect to the safety of food for its consumers, FSSAI has listed the responsibilities of the e-commerce as a licensing requirement for them. The key highlights from these responsibilities has been listed below:

  • To display license/registration for all the food business entities listed on the platform.
  • To have an agreement with brand owner/seller to ensure compliance with Food Safety and Standards Regulations. The liability shall remain with these FBOs.
  • To ensure the display of clear and legible image of the ‘principal display panel of the product’.
  • Any food article delivered to the consumer by e-commerce FBO shall have a shelf-life of at least 30 percent or 45 days before expiry at the time of delivery to the consumer. In case of caterers or restaurants, selling products online, need to ensure that only fresh food items are delivered to the consumer.

FSSAI enforcement activities and series of guidelines is ensuring consistent and efficient implementation of the new rules and regulations. The committed e-commerce platforms have appreciated and supported the steps taken by the apex body. Various aspiring and existing e-commerce food businesses are seeking the help from experts to ensure 100% compliance with the FSSAI laid Rules and Regulations.

Reference

  1. Direction Relating to FSS (Licensing and Registration) Regulations, 2018. – https://fssai.gov.in/dam/jcr:9a216a62-f67c-4ba1-93e4-9ba1ec749ca3/Direction_License_Registration_13_12_2018.pdf (Accessed on: 25.01.2019)

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