MRP, expiry dates now must on products sold by ecommerce companies
BENGALURU: Ecommerce companies will have to declare online the expiry dates and maximum retail prices of packaged consumer products under new rules meant to protect consumers from being sold old goods.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, in a notification dated June 23, has amended the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 to bring ecommerce companies and online marketplaces under its purview. Under these rules, ecommerce companies will also have to display the country of origin on their online product pages.
The rules will become effective from January 1, 2018.
“An ecommerce entity shall ensure that the mandatory declarations as specified, except the month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or packed, shall be displayed on the digital and electronic network used for ecommerce transactions,” states the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017.
Ecommerce entities include companies such as on-demand grocery platforms BigBasket and Grofers that stock inventory.
As for online marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon India that do not own inventory, the new rules indicate that the “responsibility of the correctness of declarations lie with the manufacturer or seller or dealer or importer.” The onus of ensuring due diligence before dispatching the products, however, will lie with the online marketplaces.
“We work with our sellers to ensure that our customers receive safe food products well within their indicated shelf lives,” said a spokesperson for Amazon India in an emailed reply to ET. “We train employees to check best-before dates while storing and packing food products at our fulfilment centres.”
Grofers plans to shortly begin displaying expiry dates for batches of products. “Typically, a product will ship to a customer only if it is within a reasonable window of usage,” said cofounder Albinder Dhindsa. “In case a customer complains about the expiry date within 48 hours of delivery, we offer a replacement. Expiry related complaints are fewer than two in 1,000 (products) for us.”
BigBasket and Flipkart did not reply to queries emailed by ET.
The move comes after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India conducted discussions on citizen engagement platform LocalCircles that had several people pointing to the issue of products being sold online close to their expiry or best-before dates.
Under the new guidelines, food products will be covered under specifications set by the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. “How do marketplaces manage to sell expensive and imported olive oil at a discount? These are all products bought by a dealer close to the expiry date and who is trying to sell it through this channel,” said Yatish Rajawat, chief strategy officer at LocalCircles.
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Via:: Economic times – Wealth