FSSAI’s advisory on the labelling of Canola oil has been challenged in the Bombay High Court by Dalmia Continental. FSSAI had earlier issued an advisory stating the guidelines for labelling of imported Canola oil as ‘Imported Rapeseed – low erucic acid oil’ & ‘Imported Refined Rapeseed – low erucic acid oil’ for solvent-extracted oil and refined vegetable oil respectively.
The Canola oil importers also feel that they are being penalised for using synonyms of technical names of oils, whereas other vegetable oils sold in India were free to use synonyms. They feel this is a clear case of unjustified bias and discrimination against them. According to the Codex standards, the technical names of oils are synonymous with the vegetable oil name as each means the other.
The third point of their argument is that initially there was only a verbal communication from FSSAI which oil importers followed. The food regulator asked oil importers to mention ‘rapeseed oil – low erucic acid’ as a part of the ingredients in the label. The importers complied with the guidelines however, a few months later, on the issuance of the written advisory and subsequent non-compliance, their stocks have been withheld and have not got the clearance.
Meanwhile according to sources, FSSAI is studying the new case filed by oil importers challenging the advisory issued by FSSAI with regard to labelling of imported Canola oil. FSSAI has pointed out, “the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, does not state that Codex standards are automatically applicable to India.” They have the mandate to form their own standards for product approval and harmonise it with Codex. Their second point is that the imported foods tend to be of substandard quality and hence the checks and permissions are required.
FSSAI is waiting for the final judgment on the product approval case and only then the apex food regulator will further plan its next course of action on imported food products. Meanwhile, it is going ahead with its own standards, based on Indian conditions. They will, however, look for ways to harmonize standards with those of World Health Organisation (WHO), Codex and with other international organizations.