In wake of various consumer complaints against e-commerce food companies, FSSAI finally published guidelines draft for e- commerce food business operator (FBO) on 20th September 2016. This move really is seen as a positive step in view to safeguard consumer health and safety. In India, e-commerce space is growing rapidly from a year on year. It is estimated that growth of e-commerce in the year of 2016 is $ 8.8 Billion more than five times from 2012. (Fig-1). Therefore, it is seen as an imperative business module to ensure consumer health and safety.
Fig-1Source: Forrester Research, Inc
Registration and Licensing:
- All e- Commerce FBOs like Sellers, Vendors, Importers, Processors, Packagers or Manufacturer who display or offer their food products shall liable to obtain the license from the central licensing authorities for their entire supply chain like Head Office/ register office, transportation, storage, and distribution.
- Exceptions are provided to the entity who provides listing / directory services to sellers, restaurants, vendors, importers, or manufacturers. However, e-commerce entity providing listing/ directory services shall ensure that no misleading information / false claims listed or available on their platform.
E-commerce compliance requirements:
- All e-commerce FBO need to have signed the agreement with seller – which specify seller in compliant with FSS Act and Rules & Regulations.
- Sellers require to display their FSS License / Registration obtained under FSS Act and Regulations.
- Sellers who display any pre-packed foods for sale need to be legible and clear picture of the principal display panel
- Sellers who are dealing with fresh produce shall provide an indicative image of the same produce
- Mandatory information like storage condition, disclaimers warning, and etc., shall be provided without charging consumers supplementary costs
- E-commerce entity / FBO shall immediately delist any food products which are not compliance to the FFS Act or Rules and Regulations
- E-commerce FBO liable and bound to take action on the complaint raised by consumer
- E-commerce FBO co-operates with consumers to enable satisfactory resolution like sharing relevant information including sellers details.
- The food products offered for sale by e-commerce FBO liable to sampling/ testing at any point of the supply chain i.e. Production, Processing, Packaging, Storing, and Distribution.