The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) vide a directive dated 20th April 2020 allows import of food for special medical purposes, i.e. food for inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) and hypoallergenic foods for another 6 months till 1st November 2020.
IEM are rare genetic disorders in which the body cannot properly turn food into energy. The disorders are usually caused by defects in specific proteins/enzymes that helps in metabolize food. The most common IEM that are found in India are Congenital Hypothyroidism, Biotinides deficiency, Galactosemia, etc. So, food for IEM and hypoallergenic food that provokes allergic reaction require specialty standards for their management. Hospitals require these foods for management of children and infants suffering from IEM and hypoallergenic conditions.
Though specialty food were existed worldwide, it was difficult to import them into India due to absence of standards for such foods. FSSAI started working on creating the standards for these foods but time for setting the standards was likely to take long time. So, vide a directive dated 2nd November 2016; with the advice of its scientific pane, FSSAI decided to allow the import of such food for 15 disease/conditions for a period of 2 years through Delhi and Mumbai Ports. Later on, this period of 2 years is extended time to time vide various directives dated 1st November 2018, 2nd May 2019 and 20th April 2020, and currently the import of such food is allowed till 1st November 2020. However, it is important that labels of such food shall clearly mention the medical conditions and the importer/manufacture shall ensure that the foods are consumed only after medical supervision.