Labelling is an important element for products being exported to India. English is the favourable language for labelling. All packets or even containers should carry information depending upon the consignment.
Indian Customs are strict and ensure that imported items have the legally required information before these enter the retail market or are sold for consumption, excluding those products that fall under the EOU segment.
As per a Notification issued by the Ministry of Commerce on November 24, 2000, all pre-packaged commodities (intended for direct retail sale only) imported into India must carry the following declarations on the label:
- Name and address of the importer;
- Generic or common name of the commodity packed
- Net quantity in terms of the standard unit of weights and measurement.
- All units of weight or measurements must be metric.
- If the net quantity of the imported package is given in any other unit, its equivalent of standard units must be declared by the importer, and Month and year of packing in which the commodity is manufactured, packed or imported, and the maximum retail sales price (MRP) at which the commodity in packaged form may be sold to the end consumer.
The MRP includes all taxes, freight transport charges, commission payable to dealers, and all charges towards advertising, delivery, packing, forwarding and the like. Compliance of the above-stated requirements has to be ensured before the import consignments are cleared by Customs in India.
The import of pre-packaged commodities such as raw materials, components, bulk import etc., that need to undergo further processing before they are sold to end consumers is not included under this labelling requirement.
- Labelling requirements for packaged food products as laid down in Part VII of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Rules, 1955, and the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules of 1977, require that the labels contain the following information:
- Name, trade name or description
- Name of ingredients used in the product in descending order of their composition by weight or volume
- Name and complete address of manufacturer/packer, importer, country of origin of the imported food (if the food article is manufactured outside India, but packed in India)
- Net weight, number or volume of contents
- Distinctive batch, lot or code number
- Month and year of manufacture and packaging
- Month and year by which the product is best consumed
- Maximum retail price
Wherever applicable, the product label also has to contain the following:
• The purpose of irradiation and license number in case of irradiated food
• Extraneous addition of the colouring material
• Non-vegetarian food
Any food which contains whole or part of any animal including birds, freshwater or marine animals, eggs or product of any animal origin as an ingredient, not including milk or milk products – must have a symbol of a brown color-filled circle inside a brown square outline prominently displayed on the package, contrasting against the background on the display label in close proximity to the name or brand name of the food
• Vegetarian food must have a similar symbol of the green colour-filled circle inside a square with a green outline prominently displayed
All declarations may be:
• Printed in English or Hindi on a label securely affixed to the package, or
• Made on an additional wrapper containing the imported package, or
• Printed on the package itself, or
• Maybe made on a card or tape affixed firmly to the package and bearing the required information prior to customs clearance
With regard to the shelf life of imported food items, a Notification issued by the Ministry of Commerce on July 30, 2001, states that: “Imports of all food products, domestic sale and manufacture of which are governed by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) shall also be subject to the condition that, at the time of importation, these products have a valid shelf life of not less than 60% of its original shelf life.
The shelf life of the product is to be calculated based on the declaration given on the label of the product, regarding the date of manufacture and the due date of expiry.”