If you’re planning to start a food retail business in India, the most important license is the one from the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Family Health & Welfare, Government of India. The FSSAI provides licenses for the safety and standardization of food products manufactured and sold in India. Without one, no legitimate wholesaler or retailer would stock your products.
What is an FSSAI license?
The FSSAI works toward setting scientific standards for articles of food, to regulate their manufacturing, storage, distribution, sales, and import. It is mandatory for any startup or company with a plan to enter the food retail business to get an FSSAI license. This is, of course, in addition to the other licenses you would need.
This is an initiative by the Government of India to ensure the food produced, distributed or imported adheres to the standards set by the food authority and thereby avoid problems such as adulteration and inferior qualities of food.
The FSSAI license is divided into three categories:
a. FSSAI license for single-state businesses with annual turnover of under Rs. 12 lakh
b. FSSAI license for single-state hotels, restaurants, and medium-sized food manufacturers with an annual turnover of Rs. 12 lakh to Rs. 20 crore
c. FSSAI central license for enterprises with a turnover of over Rs. 20 crore
If you plan to open outlets in more than one state, you will need a Central FSSAI license for the registered office and state licenses for individual units. If you have warehouses in different states, you will be required to get a separate license for each facility.
Who will require an FSSAI registration?
Any enterprises involved in the manufacture, procurement (import), processing, packaging, storage and distribution of food items will need to acquire this license. Once you register online, the business is provided with a 14-digit registration number. Any food packages distributed or manufactured should carry the registration number.
Steps to procure an FSSAI license in India:
Fill in Application
Fill the application form (Form B) mentioned in The Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses), Regulations 2011.
Before filling up your application, check the type of FSSAI license you may require, from the concerned person. You can check this link below for details on State and Central licenses.
Send form to authority
Attach the following with the application form and send it to the Licensing Authority (State or Central):
1. A self-attested declaration as provided in the format in Annexure 1
2. Copies of documents provided in Annexure 2 of the Regulations.
3. Fees prescribed in Schedule 3, depending upon the category your food business falls in.
The list of documents that you might need include:
a) In the case of the proprietorship, photo ID and address proof of the proprietor, directors or partners. Proofs should have been issued by the Government of India
b) List of food categories that you wish to manufacture, procure, package, etc.
c) Blueprint or layout of the manufacturing, storage or distribution facility
d) Business name
e) Food analysis report (as demanded by the FSSAI)
f) Raw material source and NoC from the local municipality.
If the licensing authority requires any additional information relating to the application or if the application is found to be incomplete, you will be informed in writing within 15 days of your application.
You will be asked to provide the remaining information within 30 days from intimation. In case you fail to do the same; your application for a license will be rejected.
Once the complete application is received, including the additional information (if asked for) by the Authority, an Application ID number is issued. This ID number has to be used for reference and in all future correspondence. You can expect the license within 60 days of the issue of such an Application ID number.
After the issue of Application ID number, the Licensing Authority may direct an officer to inspect the premises in which your business is to be opened.
This is done in the manner prescribed by the regulations of the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India.
The Inspecting Officer may issue a notice to you, guiding you on necessary steps to be taken or changes to be made on your premises to ensure general sanitary and hygienic conditions.
You will need to carry out the required steps, changes or alterations and intimate the licensing authority about it within 30 days or within the time period allowed by it.
Within 30 days from receipt of the inspection report, excluding the time taken by you to comply with the feedback in the inspection report, the concerned licensing authority shall consider the application and may either grant a license or reject the application. However, before refusing your license application, you shall be given an opportunity of being heard, and if the authority still decides to reject your application, the reasons for refusal shall be recorded in writing.
Displaying the license
The licensing authority will issue you the license in Format C under Schedule 2 of the regulations, a true copy of which will be needed to be displayed in a prominent place at all times within your business premises.