FSSAI directs eCommerce companies to delist plant-based non-dairy foods using ‘dairy’ terms

State Food Safety Departments are directed to investigate the alleged use of dairy terms on the labels of plant-based beverages and food products
FSSAI directs eCommerce companies to delist plant-based non-dairy foods using ‘dairy’ terms
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In a recent order, the Food Regulator has directed the State Food Safety Departments to investigate and identify specific instances for violation of the use of dairy terminology for non-dairy or plant-based products by Food Business Operators (FBOs).

In case of any violation, FBOs may be granted 15 days to suitably improve or modify their product labels and strictly comply with the relevant provisions of FSS (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 the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006 and Rules/Regulations made thereunder.

As per the ‘General Standards for Milk and Milk Products’ under the ‘Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011’, use of any dairy term(s) for a product that is not milk or a milk product or a composite milk product (for example plant-based products or beverages) is prohibited. Any such action is in contravention of the said Regulations. Further, the term ‘curd’ is also not considered a dairy term exclusively for such products. It has been associated with non-dairy products such as ‘soybean curd’ in our regulations which also is inconsistent with the relevant Codex standards.

However, exceptions are permissible for using dairy terminology in the nomenclature of certain products like coconut milk, peanut butter, etc. In reference to the internationally accepted principle that dairy terms were being traditionally used in their nomenclature, they are not substitutes for milk or milk products.

Since many such products are sold through eCommerce Food Business Operators (FBOs), FSSAI has also instructed all eCommerce 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. FSSAI has further directed that no such defaulting products listed on the online platforms are allowed for sale in the future.

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