The Food Safety Standards Authority of India, under Section 43 (1) of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, has given recognition to the National Food and Feed Reference Laboratory in Kathmandu, Nepal. According to the order released by the regulatory authority, the recognition was given for the analysis of samples under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011.
In addition to this, the order added that the test analysis certificates issued by the National Food and Feed Reference Laboratory, Kathmandu, for the food products listed by the regulator in Annexure-1 of the order, shall be accepted by the authorities in India dealing in food import. The list of food products for which the testing shall be accepted by the regulator include juice, jam, jelly, pickles, candies, instant noodles, biscuits, infant food, milk, skimmed whole milk powder, condensed milk, ice-creams, yogurt sweets, processed meat and meat products, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, tea, coffee, honey, fresh fruit and vegetables.
However, this recognition is subject to the condition that the National Food and Feed Reference Lab of Nepal would obtain accreditation as per ISO/IEC 17025 from NABL for all the parameters as per the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, within a period of one year from the date of issue of the order (order date – 29 July 2019).
Complying with Indian food and beverage standards was a big market access challenge for many exporters. The export development board, after identifying the matter, took the initiative and started discussions with FSSAI to resolve this issue.
In a proposal, the Export Development Board suggested that this problem could be resolved if the Indian authorities agreed to test the products for Indian standards through accredited labs and accept test reports and compliance certificates issued by these labs. FSSAI agreed on considering this request to register laboratories to test with Indian standards. In 2018, FSSAI provided certification to three labs in Sri Lanka.