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Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified regulations for vegan food products bringing much needed regulatory clarity for the nascent but rapidly growing segment in the country.

These regulations come at a time when players such as Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza have begun putting vegan, or plant-based protein offerings, on their menu in India.

Also, the sector has seen the emergence of many VC-funded start-ups in the past 2-3 years as well as products of global plant protein biggies such as Beyond Meat.

The regulations specify various key provisions for labelling and traceability keeping in mind the availability of both domestically manufactured as well as imported vegan and plant-based protein products. Once implemented, all vegan products will need to carry a specific logo on their labels.

Vegan gets defined

The regulations define vegan as “food or ingredients including additives, flavourings, enzymes and carriers, or processing aids that are not products of animal origin and in which, at no stage of production and processing, ingredients, including additives, flavourings, enzymes and carriers, or processing aids that are of animal origin has been used.”

The FSSAI had first proposed the draft of these regulations in September last year after which stakeholder consultations were held.

The regulations state that vegan food products should not be involved in animal testing for any purpose and manufacturers must conform to Good Manufacturing Practices to avoid the “unintended presence of non-vegan substances”.

“There shall be traceability established up to the manufacturer level and the Food Business Operator shall comply with any other requirements specified by the Food Authority to maintain the vegan integrity of the foods or food ingredients or products thereof from time to time,” the regulations added.

Right direction

Harsh Gursahani, a food lawyer and Partner at PLR Chambers, said, “FSSAI is the first authority in the world to provide a definition for vegan food. These regulations will ensure that the plant-based products meet the prescribed standards before they can claim to be vegan. It’s a step in the right direction by the FSSAI and will aid in the growth of the nascent Indian plant-based food industry.”

The regulations also state that “no vegan food products can be imported except with a certificate issued by the recognised authorities of the exporting countries in the format as specified by the Authority .”

Abhishek Sinha, CEO & Co-Founder, GoodDot, said, “The regulations clearly establish the increasing demand for vegan food in the country and will help give more confidence to consumers in the vegan and plant-based protein products.”

Source : The Hindu Business line June 17 2022 written by Meenakshi Verma Ambwani