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Proprietary foods can use vitamins and minerals according to RDA
Friday, 16 September, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
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With the recent operationalisation of the standards on proprietary food, a long-fought battle between the industry and the food regulatory authority, appears to be reaching its culmination.
 
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in a notice, has issued directions regarding the operationalisation of the standards on proprietary food using ingredients either standardised or permitted for use.

Further, it has been clarified that proprietary food can use vitamins and minerals in quantities according to the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) but cannot make health claims.
 
The notice mentions that proprietary food product shall comply with the prescribed food additives provisions and the microbiological specifications and all other regulations made under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006.

And that the food business operator (FBO) shall be fully responsible for the safety of the proprietary food.
 
This, together with the released list of 11,000 additives approved by the FSSAI, the food industry could now take forward the innovation and improvement in the products without the tension of getting a pre-approval for their product.

However, according to the directions, any deviation in quality parameters, as prescribed by FSSAI shall not qualify as proprietary food.

The direction said proprietary food was defined as an article of food that has not been standardised under the FSS regulations. It will also not include any novel food, functional food and food for special dietary supplements but include any article of food which the union government may notify on this behalf.

Further, such food article shall also specify the category and sub-category defined under the FSS regulations with generic name, nature and composition of the proprietary food. Besides, the proprietary food should also comply with the microbiological requirement as specified, falling to which render food product unsafe.

Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, a Mumbai-based laboratory specialising in food, water and air testing, said, “The new proprietary food draft is going to make it much simpler and quicker for food businesses to get their products out in the market. Even if they are called for approval, the process is going to be much streamlined with respect to FSSAI's. To sum up, for food businesses this amendment will be much faster than before.”

Further, a previous frequently-asked question (FAQ) by FSSAI stated that licence for such proprietary foods shall be granted for the specific food or food category (sub-category) as requested by the FBO in the application form in accordance with the licensing regulation without any requirement of product approval.

FBOs can also get the new proprietary food incorporated in the existing licence. Any existing proprietary products already included in the existing licence shall remain valid.
 
These revised standards were issued and uploaded on FSSAI website on April 27, 2016, inviting suggestions and comments from various stakeholders. And after consultations and considerations, these standards have been made operational from August 22, 2016.
 
FSSAI in December issued a notification of operationalisation of more than 8,000 additives and subsequently completed the list by releasing another approved list of 3,000 additives. This was followed by standards for the proprietary food. Recently the FSSAI issued a clarification with respect to proprietary foods, which explains such foods and the regulations governing these products.

Section 22 of the FSS Act deals with the foods, including (i) genetically modified articles of food, (ii) irradiated food, (iii) organic foods, (iv) foods for special dietary uses, (v) functional foods, (vi) nutraceuticals, (vii) health supplements and (viii) proprietary food and novel food.

According to the earlier point of view of the FSSAI, Section 22 stipulated that “Save as otherwise provided under this Act and regulations made there under, no person shall manufacture, distribute, sell or import any novel food, genetically-modified articles of food, irradiated food, organic foods, foods for special dietary uses, functional foods, nutraceuticals, health supplements, proprietary foods and such other articles of food which the Central government may notify on this behalf.”
 
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