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India Updates Various Food Additive and Ingredient Requirements

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August 9, 2021Chanyanis UtiskulBlog

On 26 July 2021, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) published the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Third Amendment Regulations, 2021 (third amendment of 2021), revising the requirements for food ingredient and additive standards, in the Gazette of India. Among many changes, one sweetener, alitame, will be disallowed as a permitted food additive in many drinks and sweet products, while many new standards will be included for several new food products. 

Verisk 3E Review 

The third amendment of 2021 seeks to revise and include many of India’s food product standards as prescribed under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 (the principal regulations). The following are the relevant key changes.

Changes to Food Additive Requirements

Alitame will be removed as a permitted additive from certain food products. The substance, which is classified as a “non-caloric sweetener,” is currently allowed in India under Appendix A of Chapter 3 (Use of Food Additives in Food Products) of the principal regulation. Among the affected products are water-based flavored drinks, dairy-based drinks, cocoa-based spreads including fillings, cocoa and chocolate products, chewing gums, and confectionery including hard and soft candy and nougats.

In addition, the third amendment of 2021 seeks to further define the characteristic of food sweetener additives as governed in Chapter 3. As such, a new paragraph will be added for the classification of sweetener (as food additive), which is defined as "caloric" and "non-caloric sweeteners." 

New Product Standards Added

The third amendment of 2021 also adds the following new food product standards:

  • Grapeseed oil with the newly added table of required fatty acid composition
  • Instant tea in solid form
  • Decaffeinated roasted and ground coffee-chicory mixture
  • Decaffeinated instant coffee-chicory mixture 
  • Dried sage
  • Yellow pea powder

Update on Food Product Ingredient Standards

The third amendment of 2021 changes also include the revision of requirements for ingredients and composition, which are governed under Chapter 2 of the principal regulations. Among the affected changes are changes to fat, oil, and fat emulsion products.

The new hexane-free requirements on certain expeller-press oil products are added. The current provisions limit the maximum threshold of hexane residue from solvent method at 5.0 parts per million (ppm). The third amendment of 2021 revises this requirement by adding that “oil obtained by expelled pressed method must be free from hexane residue.” Among the affected products are soybean oil, groundnut oil, flaxseed or linseed oil, rapeseed or mustard oil, poppy seed oil, safflower oil, sunflower seed oil-high oleic acid, avocado oil, and maize oil. In addition, there are updated standards for interesterified vegetable fat/oil and margarine and fat spread products. The changes concern requirements for the ratio of raw and refined sesame oil (til oil) when mixed with ground nut oil in such products.

Other changes include the following revisions of existing standards of various products:

  • Buffalo milk under milk standards (2.2) relating to source of origin
  • Besan and maize starch under cereal and cereal products categories (2.4)
  • Peppers under salt, spice, and condiment categories (2.9) (black, white, and green pepper standards are consolidated under one category)
  • Mineral water and packaged drinking water under beverage-based (other than dairy and fruits and vegetables) category (2.10) (new table on pesticide residue contaminant parameters added for mineral water and new paragraph added as per the required characteristic of packaged drinking water) 

The Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 require conformity to India's food product standards. This covers the criteria and requirements for raw materials and essential composition and quality factors, as well as contaminants, toxins, and residues. Certain standards, such as food additives and contaminants, may be incorporated under other regulations by reference.

Verisk 3E Analysis 

This update requires changes in the regulatory compliance of many food standards. Manufacturers and importers of affected food products should review and consult the details of each change. Chapter 2 of the principal regulation sets out the food product standards for 15 main food categories. Included in each item's standards are requirements related to mandatory ingredients, essential composition, and characteristics, as well as contaminants. The tables under Appendix A of Chapter 3 are the current Indian permitted food additives list. Products not meeting these standards would be considered in violation of the Food Safety Act, 2006 and subject to recall, confiscation, and/or fines.