INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued an advisory regarding the unauthorized use of liquid nitrogen in food by restaurants, bars, and other food-serving establishments.

The advisory addresses several instances where liquid nitrogen has been inappropriately used to enhance the visual appeal of food items, leading to serious health concerns.

Recent incidents have highlighted the dangers of consuming food infused with liquid nitrogen. One notable case involved a 12-year-old child who fell ill after eating a liquid nitrogen-infused paan.

Liquid nitrogen, described as a colorless, odorless gas or liquid, is used as a freezing agent, propellant, packaging gas, and foaming agent. However, its direct application at the point of serving food items, such as ice creams, cocktails, and desserts, poses significant health risks.

According to the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, nitrogen (INS 941) is classified as a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) additive with specific permitted uses.

Appendix A of these regulations specifies the use of nitrogen in designated food categories, while Appendix C permits the use of liquid nitrogen in dairy-based desserts like ice cream strictly for contact freezing and cooling during processing.

The FSSAI advisory emphasizes that the use of liquid nitrogen at the point of sale or plating is unauthorized and constitutes non-compliance with the FSSAI regulations.

The intended use of liquid nitrogen, as outlined, is confined to technological functions during food processing, not for immediate consumption applications that are often seen in food establishments.

Food businesses that continue to use liquid nitrogen unlawfully will face statutory actions as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and its accompanying regulations. The FSSAI has made it clear that any deviation from the prescribed use of INS 941 will be subject to regulatory scrutiny and penalties.

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