Mooed out! Plant-based beverages can’t be labelled ‘dairy’

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on September 04, 2021

FSSAI orders e-commerce sites to delist almond, soy, oats, other milk alternatives from dairy products category

Bovine milk has scored a big win. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a directive that plant-based beverages or products cannot be labelled as milk products. It has now directed e-commerce companies to delist plant-based products from the dairy milk products category on their platforms immediately.

The food safety regulator’s latest advisory comes in response to a complaint by the National Co-operative Dairy Federation of India (NCDFI), which had objected to plant-based beverages such as almond, soy or oats-based beverages being labelled milk products.

The dairy industry has been aggressively vocal on the issue with Amul even issuing an advertisement against plant-based beverages encroaching the word “milk”. Growing veganism has led to many established packaged food companies as well as start-ups getting into plant-based beverages. According to a report by Research and Markets, plant-based milk alternatives are growing at a CAGR of 20.7 per cent and projected to reach $63.9 million in India by 2024.

Welcoming FSSAI’s decision, an elated RS Sodhi, MD, GCMMF, said this would protect the interests of the 100 million dairy producers in the country. “Such products lack inherent nutrition, so they are chemically fortified. They are not palatable, hence for palatability, companies add artificial flavours and emulsifiers. This can’t be natural. And, still they want to sell. They can but why fake it by using dairy names? They have to follow the law of the land,” Sodhi said.

According to the FSSAI, advisory guidelines for the use of dairy terms in naming products are clearly laid out in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. These regulations state that “use of any dairy term” for a product which is not milk, milk product or a composite milk product is prohibited and any such action is in “contravention” of these regulations.

“It is directed to investigate the labelling declarations of such products which are reported to be in contravention to the regulatory provisions... and delist such products from your online platforms immediately,” the regulator said in its advisory of September 1 to e-commerce companies.

The FSSAI also asked them to ensure that such “defaulting products” whose labels are in violation of these regulations are not sold on their platforms. E-commerce players have been asked to submit ‘action-taken reports’ on this issue by September 15. State Food Safety Commissioners were also directed to step up the surveillance of any such violations.

The food safety regulator however added that dairy-related terms can be used for certain products that are not substitutes of milk or milk-based products such as coconut milk and peanut butter, in line with internationally accepted principles and the relevant Codex standards.

With inputs from Rutam Vora in Ahmedabad

Published on September 03, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like