Agmark requirement for imported oil kept in abeyance; decision draws flak

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued an advisory saying that the requirement of Agmark certification on imported food consignment, particularly, imported blended edible vegetable oil (BEVO), has been kept in ‘abeyance’.

The FSSAI advisory reads, “It was agreed to keep the requirement of Agmark certification for imported food consignment in abeyance till further orders. According to the FSSAI, representation has been received from various stakeholders seeking clarification with respect to the applicability of requirement of Agmark certification in case of imported food products and the matter was taken up with the Directorate of Marketing and Inspections.

It has been informed that the foreign country/overseas certification under Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marking) Act 1937 is not being carried out by DMI. Therefore, as decided, it was agreed to keep the requirement of Agmark certification for imported food consignments in abeyance till further orders, reads FSSAI statement.

Meanwhile, the All India Edible Oil Traders’ Confederation (AIEOTC) has reacted sharply to this decision and called it ‘dangerous’ for the health of Indian consumers while criticising the same.

Mr. Shankar Thakkar, president, AIEOTC, has said that this decision was taken based on few importers while the FSS Act itself has provision that such oil can only be sold in India with a valid FSSAI licence and Agmark certification. Agmark is a certification given to agri produce which is produced according to the set standards of the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to the AIEOTC, FSSAI in its previous advisory, expressed concern about many food businesses getting FSSAI licence without Agmark certification and selling BEVO. FSSAI had in 2020 asked the state food safety department to take necessary action against the violators.

However, FSSAI in its fresh advisory has reverted its previous decision. AIEOTC has called for a larger consultation on the subject matter.