In its latest order, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked food safety commissioners to take “enforcement action” against companies that are selling plant-based ghee and butter.
In its order dated January 23, it said that such products are of non-animal origin and are blends and mixtures of edible oils and hydrogenated fats, among others. It also raised concerns about products that are “deceptively sold” as “vegan ghee.” It pointed out that, as per the Vegan Foods Regulations, ghee or butter cannot be claimed to be vegan foods, and also that use of a vegan food claim or logo cannot be made without its prior approval.
Usage of terms
In terms of usage of dairy terms, FSSAI stated that with respect to a product that is not milk, a milk product, or a composite milk product, “no label, publicity material, etc., shall be used that claims, implies, or suggests that the product is milk, a milk product, or a composite milk product. ” It also pointed out that according to the FSS (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations 2011, no person can manufacture or sell ghee that contains “any added matter not exclusively derived from milk fat.”
The regulator asked Food Safety Commissioners and Regional Directors to immediately check labels of “such products” that are being manufactured or sold in their jurisdiction, including on online platforms or websites. It asked them to take “enforcement actions” against such food business operators who were selling plant-based ghee or butter products or making vegan food claims without the prior approval of the Food Authority. It has also asked them to submit an action taken report by February 15.
RS Sodhi, President, Indian Dairy Association, thanked FSSAI on Twitter for its quick response, stating it will help maintain farmers’ livelihoods.
But industry sources pointed out that companies manufacturing and marketing non-dairy milk and other plant-based products have filed a case challenging similar orders issued by the FSSAI in 2021. The matter is still subjudice before the Delhi High Court, sources added.
SOURCE : The Hindu Business Line Jan 24th 2023 by Meenakshi Verma Ambwani