The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in its latest order clarified that food businesses need to declare non-vegetarian logo on product labels in case it contains any animal-derived ingredient irrespective of its content percentage.

The food safety authority said that the obligation upon the food business operators to make a disclosure of whether the food products is vegetarian or non-vegetarian is stipulated in the FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations 2011.

“Food business shall have to declare the non-vegetarian logo in case any individual constituent ingredients of the compound ingredient is of non-vegetarian in origin, irrespective of the percentage of compound ingredient of the food,” the order dated April 5 stated.

Compound ingredients

According to FSSAI’s norms, every package of non-vegetarian food containing ingredients including food additives, processing aids of animal origin “shall bear a declaration to this effect made by a symbol and colour code” in line with the stipulated provisions.. It states that compound ingredients, which is a product of two or more ingredients should be declared by their specific names. This needs to be done by either as declaring each sub-component of compound ingredients as individual ingredients or listing them in brackets in descending order of proportion. “Provided that where a compound ingredient constitutes less than 5 per cent. of the food, the ingredients, other than food additives that serve the technological function in the food products, need not be declared,” the regulations said.

FSSAI also clarified that the exemption is only with regards to declaring the sub-components of compound ingredient in the list of ingredients which are less than 5 per cent. Hence, the declaration that the food is vegetarian or non-vegetarian needs to be done independent of the exemption clause.

Strict enforcement

FSSAI has also directed State food safety commissioners to ensure strict enforcement of the norms is carried out and to make efforts to sensitise all the packaged food companies in their respective jurisdiction.

The FSSAI’s order comes after a direction from the Delhi High Court. Last month, the court said that it is fundamental that a full and complete disclosure on whether a food product is vegetarian or non-vegetarian be made by food business operators.