FSSAI has issued an order dated 01 September, 2021 through which the Food Regulator has stated that it has received complaints against plant based food manufacturers for using the word milk and other dairy terms on labels of plant-based beverages and products.
FSSAI has in its order stated that it is in receipt of complaint dated 01 March, 2021 from the National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India (NCDF) vide with specific instances of alleged violations of the use of dairy terminology for non-dairy or plant- based products are mentioned in the complaint which have been brought to the notice of the FSSAI.
FSSAI has further brought to notice how the ‘General Standards for Milk and Milk Products’ under the ‘Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011’ clearly lays down the guidelines for the use of any dairy term(s) in the nomenclature of dairy products (milk, milk products or a composite milk product) as well as for non-dairy products (other foods). According to these Regulations, use of any dairy term for a product which not milk, a milk product or a composite milk product (e.g., plant-based products / beverages) is prohibited and any such action is in contravention of the said Regulations.
However, the FSSAI has further apprised that as exceptions to the above-mentioned provisions, the regulations also provide for use of dairy terms in the nomenclature of certain products like coconut milk, peanut butter, etc.) which are based on the internationally accepted principle that certain dairy terms are traditionally being used in their nomenclature and such products are not substitutes of milk and milk products. Further, the term ‘curd’ is also not considered a dairy term exclusively for such products, and has been associated with non-dairy products such as ‘soybean curd’ in our Regulations which also is in consistency with the relevant Codex standards.
In view of the above alleged violations in use of dairy terms, in its recent order, the FSSAI has directed the State Food Safety Departments to investigate the labelling declarations of such products which are reported to be in contravention to the regulatory provisions related to the application of dairy terms, including the specific instances of alleged violations as mentioned in the complaint of the NCDF and to delist such products from the online platforms immediately.
Since, a lot of such products are sold through E-Commerce platforms of Food Business Operators (FBOs), FSSAI has instructed all E-Commerce platforms to delist such products which are reported to be in contravention to the regulatory provisions related to the application of dairy ‘terms’ from their online platforms immediately. Further, the FSSAI has asked them to ensure that no such defaulting products, whose labels are in contravention to the above-mentioned provisions, regulating the application of the dairy terms are listed on online platforms for sale in future also.
FSSAI has also requested the Food Safety Officers to furnish the actions taken reports, showing relevant details of such FBOs who have been delisted for violating the said provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011’ and share the same with FSSAI by 15 September 2021 at [email protected]
The FSSAI has also issued a Press Release in this regard. The Press release states that in case of any violation, FBOs may be granted 15 days’ time to suitably improve/modify their product labels and strictly comply with the relevant provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011 before the Food Safety Departments take any enforcement action. This step will ensure an appropriate enforcement action against such defaulting FBOs as per the provisions of Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006 and Rules/Regulations made thereunder.
Source : FSSAI