The ban, which includes chocolates, chocolate products, candies or confectionery or “food preparations” with milk or milk solids as an ingredient, had last been imposed from June 22, 2017 to June 23, 2018.
According to Alok Vardhan Chaturvedi, director general of foreign trade, “the matter has been reviewed” and the prohibition has been extended for a further period of six months until December 23, “or until further orders, whichever is earlier”.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) confirmed that the issue was recently discussed at its headquarters in the capital of New Delhi.
There, “the concerned departments or ministries of the government of India”, including the FSSAI, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), met and discussed the issue, and hence recommended the extension of the ban by a further six months.
Madhavi Das, chief management services officer, FSSAI, added that the ban would be in place “until their safety is established on the basis of credible reports and supporting data”.
According to an FSSAI official, the parties involved were concerned about melamine contamination, which was the cause of the imposition of the initial ban a decade ago.
The government of India, under the DGFT, first imposed a ban on the import of milk and milk products from China for three months from September 24, 2008.
“The ban for three months was imposed as an interim step to enable other (government) departments to put in place suitable measures to restrict import of contaminated milk products in the country,” said Das.
The ban was further extended another six months to December 1, 2008, whereupon chocolates, chocolate products, candies or confectionary or food preparations with milk and milk solids as an ingredient were also brought under the ban.
The ban resurfaced or had been extended from time to time in the past ten years.
Local media has also reported that the decision by the government will come to benefit the local Indian dairy industry, which is facing a surplus of stock in milk cooperatives. This had caused the procurement price of milk to be lowered considerably, which in turn affected the many farmers.
By the end of the current extension of the ban, a decision will be made based on the results of scientific testing, which will be announced by the relevant authorities.