The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has now mandated a license for e-commerce food business operators. In a notification last week, the FSSAI said these businesses now have to obtain licenses from the central licensing authority for the entire supply chain including transport, head office, registered office, manufactures and distributions.
The regulator has mandated that the last-mile delivery of food should be undertaken by trained delivery personnel in order to ensure that the safety of the food product is not tampered with.
These guidelines are said to have come about with the aim of regulating e-commerce food businesses like Swiggy, FreshMenu and Zomato. All these carry out business with food on the online platform. The guidelines are believed to have been issued after the receiving several customer complaints with regards to quality and experience.
As per the guidelines, the e-commerce food businesses will now come under schedule-I of the Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2011, which requires these companies to obtain licenses from the Central Licensing Authority for the entire supply chain.
The guidelines also state that these companies should ensure that no misleading information or false claims relating to the listed brand owners, restaurants, vendors, manufacturers or importers, should be made available on the platforms.
Also, the e-commerce platforms should make it very clear on the site that any liability for any of the above would be on the brand owners, restaurants, vendors, manufacturers or importers.
All of the food delivery and food tech startups are now required to sign an agreement with the brand owners, restaurants, vendors, manufacturers or importers and comply with the rules. Also in case of any violation, the food delivery or food tech startups will have to immediately delist the food products concerned from their platform.
After the cab aggregators, regulators are now looking to crack down on the food business. Swiggy which has recently raised Series D funding will have to now comply with the norms, and as they are also entering into the cloud kitchen space, they need to look at the regulatory bodies more closely. Also, Uber is venturing into uberEats in India, the guidelines and regulations will get trickier and murkier there.