All e-commerce entities selling food products or running a
food business will now have to get themselves registered with the
Indian food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(hereinafter referred to as the 'FSSAI'). The regulatory
authority has directed online retailers to register under the Food
Safety and Standards Act, 2006, with the FSSAI. The FSSAI Chairman,
Mr. Ashish Bahuguna, said that since the e-commerce players are
selling food products or dealing in one or another form of food
business at their platforms and since food and food businesses come
under the ambit of FSSAI, so, they have register if they want to
continue their food business operations. This would also allow
FSSAI inspectors to do regular checks on the safety of the food
products that the platforms deal with or store in their warehouses
along with taking action in the cases of complaints. FSSAI has also
asked e-commerce companies to display all details regarding food
items on their portals clearly. This would include names and
addresses of sellers, their license numbers, nutrition and
ingredient information, food safety details and price parameters.
This would ensure that the consumers are fully aware of what they
Without a registration, it would be 'illegal' for such
companies to deal in food products or food businesses. As of now,
there is no penalty for the non-compliance of the same but an
appropriate action as per the food safety and standards law could
be explored for violation.
Startups operating in food businesses like Zomato, Foodpanda and
Swiggy, grocery delivery players like Grofers, Bigbasket and
Peppertap and e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Snapdeal will now
be required to register with the regulatory body. FSSAI CEO, Mr.
Pawan Agarwal, justified this move by saying that this will be in
the interest of the e-commerce players. "By following the
regulations of the Food Safety Act, the e-commerce players can
ensure the quality of food products or even services to their
consumers which will help these companies also", he said. He
added that their transactions are electronic but if they want to
sell food products or dealing in the food business, then that will
fall under ambit of the FSSAI. The FSSAI is not ready to accept
that the e-commerce companies are only technology facilitators. The
food regulator wants e-commerce entities to come under its purview
just like state governments want them to take responsibility for
the VAT payments.
The online distribution channel has been neglected with regard
to food safety. In this regard, it has been noted that online shops
are not necessarily subjected to inspection since sampling and
analysis is often complicated as the provisions in FSS Act cannot
be completely fulfilled in such business operations. FSSAI held a
meeting with senior executives of the online companies in New Delhi
on March 18, 2016, with respect to the new guidelines being
FSSAI also plans to divide the online companies into two
categories where the online marketplaces like Flipkart and Snapdeal
were being asked to get licensed under FSSAI, while the second
category is being formed to address online food delivery companies
which are being advised to facilitate business of food business
operations who are FSSAI registered and licensed. FSSAI Chairman
also stated that the aim of the move is to provide uniform safety
to consumers on both online and offline channels. He said that such
companies already fall under the Food Safety Act and, thus, should
follow the provisions immediately.
Over the previous few months, online marketplaces have started
selling various food products on their platforms. The task of
making sure all the sellers in the e-commerce market place are
FSSAI registered and licensed will be a massive and complex
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The food processing industry one of the largest industries in India is widely recognized as a 'sunrise industry' in India having huge potential for uplifting the agricultural economy, creation of large scale processed food manufacturing and food chain facilities, and the resultant generation of employment and export earnings.
One of the potential threats for manufacturing and sale of food/health supplements such as "Dietary food supplement", "Food supplements", "Nutritional supplements", "Health supplements", is its categorization in the category of "Food" or "Drugs", as there is a very thin line between "drugs/ medicines" and "nutritional supplements".
In its Cabinet Note in December, 2014, the Government of India proposed significant amendments to the Consolidated Foreign Direct Investment Policy, 2014 (''FDI Policy'') with respect to India's medical device industry.
Although in countries like the United States of America and New Zealand, drugs to be prescribed by medical practitioners are allowed to be advertised directly to consumers/patients and are regulated by the respective department of the Government in charge of drugs in the country, the same practice is not followed or encouraged in India.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).