The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) is going to start issuing a "Fit for Human Consumption" certificate, which is also known as a health certificate, for agricultural and food items as per the criteria set by the importing country.
To get the certification, the exporter will have to apply to the EPB specifying the importer's parameters along with the product samples.
The EPB will test the item at a government-designated laboratory and then issue the certificate within seven days of applying if the results are aligned with the specifications.
EPB officials said they would start taking applications from exporters on Tuesday as the commerce ministry approved the standard operating procedure (SOP) in this regard Monday.
To get this certificate, the exporter will have to pay Tk500, including value-added tax and advance income tax. And a duplicate will cost another Tk500 extra.
Mahbubur Rahman, EPB director general-1, said they had a meeting with officials of the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and the Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) last week.
"The officials told us it would take a maximum of one week to give the test results. So the EPB has set the seven-day deadline for certificate issuance," he added.
Commerce ministry officials said an exporter last year received an order to send sesame oil to Taiwan. The importer said the consignment must have the "Fit for Human Consumption" certificate.
But the exporting company could not manage it even after contacting the BSTI, BCSIR and Bangladesh Food Safety Authority. He later applied with the commerce ministry for the certificate.
Subsequently, the ministry held a meeting with representatives of the institutions. The representatives said though they are capable of the testing, they are not authorised to issue the certificate.
Then the commerce ministry decided to set up a separate public body to certify the exporting products. The EPB will issue the certificates until the inception of the particular institution.
Mahbubur Rahman said that the export of various agricultural and food products would require sanitary and phytosanitary certification as usual. The exporter will apply for the human consumption certificate if the importer specifies it.
How to apply?
After receiving the export order, the exporter will have to apply to the EPB quoting the importer's parameters. A copy of the export registration certificate (ERC) will have to be attached with the application.
Samples of the exporting item will also have to be submitted to the EPB for chemical testing.
If required, EPB officials will inspect the production plants to see the process of sample collection. The EPB will store the certificate and related documents for at least three years.
Besides, the exporter will have to submit an affidavit once a year to continue the EPB consumption certificate subscription.