In the recently concluded 16th Authority meeting, FSSAI has adopted the minutes of the 15th Authority meeting. In its 15th Authority meeting, the apex regulator had proposed approval for Steviol Glycoside as additive in particular foods, Categorization of Caramel as synthetic colour and the standard limits for Melamine in Milk & Milk Products. All the approvals have been made only after FSSAI’s consideration of the recommendations made by the Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee in all the following approvals.
FSSAI has approved the use of Steviol Glycoside, a non-nutritive sweetener in various foods. Steviol glycosides are high intensity sweeteners and are 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose. They are isolated and purified from the leaves of the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, where it is present in high levels. Steviol Glycosides are heat-stable, pH-stable, and do not ferment. What is important is that they do not induce a glycemic response when ingested and so they are a good natural sugar substitute. Besides approving the use of Steviol Glycoside w.r.t. chewing gum where the maximum level is to be 3500mg/kg it has also approved the use as a Table Top Sweetener in tablet, liquid and powder forms which may contain 7mg as Steviol equivalent per 100mg with carrier/ filler. This can serve as a sugar substitute for diabetics.
Steviol Glycoside has been approved in the following 11 products as per Codex.
|S. No.||Name of non-nutritive|
|Food Category||Based on JECFA ADI of 1-4mg/kg bw as per codex)
|!.||Steviol Glycoside||Dairy based drinks flavoured||200|
|Dairy based deserts (ice cream, frozen desserts, cream toppings)||330|
|Non carbonated water based beverages (non alcoholic)||200|
|Ice Lollies, Edible ice||270|
|Jams, jellies, marmalade||360|
|Ready to eat cereals||350|
|Soft drink concentrate||200*|
* In soft drink the maximum level mentioned is for final product after reconstitution.
Agenda on categorization of caramel as synthetic colour
FSSAI has also approved the categorization of caramel as a synthetic colour and the proposal of amendment to the regulations as well as the provisions in Appendix A to the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations 2011. Appendix A is a list of already approved food additives in the regulations. However the member of the Authority representing AIFPA was of the view that caramel is considered to be a natural colour as the process of caramalization did not include any synthetic process.
The Authority felt that a considerable time had elapsed since the item was approved by the Authority in 2012 and that extensive discussions had taken place at the level of the Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee. The current proposal on not categorizing it as a natural colour was a result of the discussions in the Scientific Committee. The Authority approved the proposal. However, the member representing AIFPA requested that her reservations on the subject may be noted in the minutes. Synthetic caramel colours are usually used as additives in products like chocolates, malt and cocoa based food supplements, colas, cakes, biscuits, confectionery, liquor and vinegar.
There are various types of caramel colours depending on how they are prepared so there is plain caramel, ammonia caramel and sulphite ammonia caramel. They can also be prepared without ammonia. Some caramels may damage genes, slow down growth, cause enlargement of the intestines and kidneys and may destroy vitamin B.
The Food Authority Fixed Standards for melamine in milk and milk products
The Food Authority has approved the recommendations made by the Scientific Committee for fixing maximum levels of melamine in milk and milk products as 1ppm in powdered infant formula 2.5ppm in food (other than infant formula) and 0.15ppm in liquid infant formula (ready to consume). Normally melamine is used in plastics, adhesives, countertops, dishware and whiteboards.
Studies carried out worldwide have made assessments on the use of melamine in foods. It is now considered safe to consume the food and beverages with melamine levels below 2.5 ppm and in milk formula it has to be at trace levels only.
Melamine gives a boost to the protein content of milk. Melamine is an organic base chemical most commonly found in the form of white crystals rich in nitrogen. When used alone it may not cause problems but when combined with cyanuric acid, which may also be present in melamine powder, melamine can form crystals that can give rise to kidney stones.