The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) clarified that food testing and import clearance of food items are an essential service.
Routine inspections are not required except in high risk products like milk and meat.
To facilitate the continuity of food business operations during the prevailing COVID-19 outbreak, FSSAI said it has taken immediate steps to ensure un-interrupted food services/ supply.
''FSSAI has written to all states to ensure no disruption of food supply chains and that regulatory compliance requirements are not an impediment for operation of any food business,'' the regulator said in a statement.
The Authority has reiterated and clarified that import clearances of food items and testing services by FSSAI's notified laboratories (including both public and private laboratories) are 'essential services'.
The food regulator has also issued direction to allow FBOs (food business operators), other than manufacturers, to temporarily operate their businesses on the basis of a valid receipt of FSSAI licence/ registration application.
This will enable quick expansion of logistic supply chains, warehouses, retail outlets, catering and food service establishments, wherever required, it said.
New businesses can start operating once they successfully file a complete application.
This is an interim relief measure, the licence/ registration will need to be secured before the expiry of the relaxation.
Manufacturers are allowed to increase their capacity, on the basis of a valid receipt of FSSAI licence/ registration application.
''No routine inspections are required to be done, except in case of high-risk food product viz. milk and milk products, slaughter houses, meat and meat products, etc,'' FSSAI said.
However, food safety authorities can conduct inspections in case of select cases on basis of risk profiling or in case of any food emergency/ incidents and complaints.
Wherever feasible, inspections can be done by e-inspection.
The deadline for returns for 2020-21 has been extended till June 2021. No penalty shall be payable for late filing of application for renewal of licences.
''These measures are until and shall cease with effect from June 30, irrespective of the status of lockdown, curfew or containment at any location,'' it said.