INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has instructed all of its Regional Directors and Commissioners of Food Security to make sure that food business operators (FBOs) and e-commerce platforms don’t deceive customers when selling ghee and butter.

This is after the FSSAI has discovered that some FBOs are utilizing dairy words to market their non-dairy products like plant-based and vegan ghee and butter in the market and on e-commerce platforms.

Rakesh Kumar, Director, Compliance, says, “Such products are of non-animal origin and are usually the blend/mixtures of two or more edible oils/hydrogenated  fats and nature identical flavours etc.

Further, it has also been noticed that such products are also being sold deceptively as ‘vegan-ghee’ whereas as per provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022, ghee, butter etc. cannot be claimed to be vegan foods and the use of vegan food claim and vegan logo are permitted only after the prior approval of the food authority.”

Additionally, it has been mandated for the involved officers to submit the action taken report by February 15.

FSSAI published the final rule for the Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022, thereby specifying what constitutes vegan food, what kind of labelling/packaging is be required for it and the compliances for Food Business Operators.

According to the new regulations, “vegan food” is a food or food ingredient, including additives, flavourings, enzymes and carriers, or processing aids that are not products of animal origin and in which, at no stage of production and processing, ingredients or processing aids that are of animal origin has been used.

The stipulations of the Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022 are being flagrantly violated in this case.

Ghee and butter cannot be claimed to be vegan, as stated quite explicitly in the Regulations.

Moreover, the FSSAI must approve the vegan label before it may be used.

According to the FSS (Food Product Standards and Additives) Regulations-2011, “no label, commercial document, publicity material, or any point of sale presentation shall be used with respect to a product that is not milk, a milk product, or a composite milk product, in which it is claimed, implied, or suggested that the product is milk, a milk product, or a composite milk product, or which refers to one or more of these products.”

Further, the FSS Prohibition and Restriction on Sales Regulations says that ‘no person shall either by himself or by any servant or agent shall sell ghee which contains any added matter not exclusively derived from milk fat’.

Food Security Commissioners and FSSAI Regional Directors have been ordered to promptly check the labels of such products made and/or sold in their respective jurisdictions, including on online marketplaces.

They have also been requested by the FSSAI to take action against the offenders.

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