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BIS certification prior to import of drinking water

November 28, 2019

By Rupin Chopra and Reetika Wadhwa

Being one of most indispensable sources which allows continuity of life for all living beings, it is very essential that the quality of water available does not have adverse impact on human health. The legislative framework in India aims to ensure standardization based on scientific principles regulating their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of items for safe human consumption. Increase in the global trade has led to commercialization of several international brands and products thereof including packaged drinking water/ mineral water.

Legal Standpoint

  • The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 prescribes for acceptable practices in respect of the food products intended for sale in India under the administration of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as “FSSAI”) which comprises of the products such as packaged drinking water/ mineral water which are imported in India. As per the provisions of Section 31 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, no person is permitted to commence or carry on any food business without the licence issued by FSSAI.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards (hereinafter referred to as “BIS”) is the national standard body of India established under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016 for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods. BIS lays down the norms required to be complied with respect to the packaged drinking water/ mineral water and the compliance required to be made in respect of the same by the manufacturers including international manufacturers.
  • The Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on sales) Regulations, 2011 vide Rule 2.4.2. (17) prohibit any person from manufacturing, selling or exhibiting the sale packaged drinking water/ mineral water except under the Bureau of Indian Standards Certification Mark.
  • The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) Regulations, 2011 monitoring the uniformity in the packages of the products including packaged drinking water/ mineral water and labels thereon.
  • The Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018 which restricts the use of fancy names and abbreviations and requires the names of the products including packaged drinking water/ mineral water in accordance to the criteria provided.

Novel approach

In order to ascertain maximization of safeguarding the interests of the consumers in the Indian market and assuring adequate health standards are maintained in respect of the products being imported, FSSAI vide its advisory dated November 27, 2019[1] directed the licensed importers to import packaged drinking water/ mineral water from the manufacturers who have obtained BIS certification.

Additionally, FSSAI reemphasized on adherence of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) Regulations, 2011 and the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018 by the importers of packaged drinking water/ mineral water.

[1] FSSAI advisory on requirement of BIS Certification prior to import of packages drinking water/ mineral water-reg dated November 27, 2019. File No. 1-1800/ FSSAI/ Imports/ 2019

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