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Taking steps to ensure compliance with EU food norms: Govt

Economic Times, India

Taking steps to ensure compliance with EU food norms: Govt


7 August 2013

NEW DELHI: Admitting to increased stances of rejection of food consignments by EU in the last three years, government today said it is taking steps to ensure compliance with the European norms.

To a question that whether reports about increase in notifications by the European Union against food exports from India due to presence of contaminants are correct, Minister of State for Commerce D Purandeswari said: "Yes".

There have been an increase in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) issued by EU for the last three years, she said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

The government has initiated several steps such as residue monitoring plan for exports of fresh table grapes to the EU through control of residues of chemicals and a web based traceability system for grapes has been put in place to ensure food safety compliances for export of agricultural products.

She said that standards for 51 fruits and vegetables have also been prepared besides 23 laboratories have been recognised for making available testing facilities to ensure the quality of produce exported.

As per the European Commission website, the RASFF was put in place to provide food and feed control authorities with an effective tool to exchange information about measures taken responding to serious risks detected in relation to food or feed.

This exchange of information helps Member States to act more rapidly and in a coordinated manner in response to a health threat caused by food or feed.

In a separate reply, she said that recently basmati rice consignments were detained by US customs and these were cleared after testing of samples for presence of pesticide residue by US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).

"The government had taken up the matter with the government of US to advise environment protection agency to examine the detailed dossier submitted by Dow Agro Sciences for setting import tolerance on tricyclazole in rice so that USFDA may exercise enforcement discretion till the process of setting import tolerance is completed by the EPA," she added.

In a reply to another question, the Minister said India has signed 10 free-trade agreements and five limited preferential trade agreements.

The country is also negotiating 18 FTAs including expansion/review of some of the existing pacts.

"In order to protect the interest of the domestic industries and agricultural sector, these agreements provide for maintaining sensitive/negative list of items on which limited or no tariff concessions are granted under the FTA," she added.

Besides, in case of a surge in imports and injury to the domestic industry, a country is allowed to take recourse to measures such as anti-dumping and safeguards.