Through a notification dated 12 September 2017, the FSSAI has included domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation 2011 in the regulation under MEAT AND MEAT PRODUCTS. This amendment has been made after taking into consideration the objections and suggestions received from the public as the draft had already been made available in June 2016.
These amendments will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Ninth Amendment Regulation, 2017 and will be appended to the existing regulations (2011). They will come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.
In the 2011 regulation, the definition for “animal” means an animal belonging to any of the species specified below:-
and includes poultry and fish
To this prescribed list the FSSAI proposes to include domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) as food animal species along with the already listed animal species given above.
About Rabbit Meat
To the four categories ovines (sheep), caprines (goat), suillines (pig) and bovines (the cattle family including buffalo and bison) the FSSAI has now added domestic rabbits which are different from wild rabbits and hares, as a fifth category of meat that can be consumed. According to FAO, the rabbit was domesticated about 200 to 300 years ago by humans and so it is a very recent breed.
Rabbit meat is considered a delicacy as well as a healthy food product that is easy to digest. Rabbit meat is tender and juicy but is termed as a lean white meat that is nutritious and is also a source of Vitamin B. Moreover, rabbit meat is high in proteins, low in fat and calories, has a higher content of calcium and phosphorus as compared to other meats. Also, there is no social or religious taboo in consuming rabbit meat and therefore can be used as a source of nutrition for many, including children and old people.