According to the latest notification from the FSSAI, alcoholic beverages are not classified as single ingredient foods, if they contain additives like colour, water, preservatives etc. and so these ingredients will have to be listed on the labels. If the alcoholic beverages contain flavouring then that too has to be mentioned on the label as all these are present in the final product. Also, FSSAI states that these ingredients need to be displayed in descending order of their composition by weight or volume at the time of its manufacture.
After this notification the Food Authority has begun to take action against suppliers who have liquor stocks on which ingredients have not been listed on the bottles. Almost 100 consignments of liquor have been withheld by the FSSAI at Mumbai and Delhi for non-compliance of norms. However, Scotch whiskey, which uses water in the distillation process has not been affected as according to FSSAI, water can be exempted from being listed as an ingredient, in cases where water forms part of an ingredient. However, if water is added to bring down the alcoholic strength in Scotch then it has to be listed. This fine distinction has caused much confusion among liquor suppliers.
According to some industry sources this move is going to cause a shortage in supply of genuine liquor whereas spurious and smuggled liquor will flood the market. Eventually it is the consumer who will be affected as he will be served diluted liquor in bars and not authentic imported liquor. Already brands like Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, Glenlivet, Malibu Rum, Moet and Chandon, Moet Hennessy have begun to be short supplied. The industry has more troubles ahead since liquor is a state subject and new liquor labels will need the approval of the state excise authorities.
Experts are of the opinion that duty-free shops across all international airports in the country will also be affected. However, Nuance Group, that manages duty free shops at Mumbai and Bangalore airports opine that they are not facing any difficulties as stocks have been getting clearance. One of the factors for this could be that FSSAI has allowed those containers of alcohol that had expiry dates and nutritional values on their labels to enter. However, according to the new FSSAI notification, it is no longer mandatory to mention expiry date (if contains 10% or more alcohol) and nutritional information on labels of wines and liquors nor do they require a veg/ non-veg logo.
Duty free shop owners say that they are FSSAI compliant and it is the supplier who needs to ensure that he/she comply with the new laws as soon as possible for the liquor market to remain in good cheer.