In recent years, the global dairy industry has witnessed rapid growth, providing consumers with a wide array of dairy products to choose from. However, this abundance of options has also given rise to concerns over the authenticity and quality of these products. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, has expressed growing concerns over the presence of misleading dairy products in the market.
Misleading Dairy Products: A Cause for Concern
To address misleading practices in the dairy industry, the FSSAI has directed state Food Safety Commissioners to take action against Food Business Operators (FBOs) selling plant-based products as butter or ghee without approval. Complaints were received about non-dairy items falsely labelled as butter or ghee on e-commerce platforms and in markets.
Immediate label checks and enforcement actions are requested against FBOs selling plant-based items as ghee or butter. The FSSAI reminds that claims of vegan foods or logos require prior approval as per the FSS Act, 2006.
Terms like ‘plant-based ghee/butter’ and ‘vegan ghee/butter’ used by some businesses are misleading, given these products’ non-animal origin.
Rakesh Kumar, Director of Compliance, explained that such products are typically blends of edible oils, hydrogenated fats, and nature identical flavours. Deceptive marketing practices include falsely claiming products as ‘vegan ghee’. The Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022 state that ghee and butter cannot be labelled as vegan without prior approval.
The FSSAI further clarifies that dairy terms should be reserved for milk, milk products, or composite milk products. The FSS Prohibition and Restriction on Sales Regulations specify that ghee must exclusively be derived from milk fat, without any added matter.
FSSAI’s Role in Ensuring Consumer Safety
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India plays a crucial role in safeguarding the interests of consumers. FSSAI is responsible for setting food safety standards, regulating the manufacturing and sale of food products, and promoting public awareness about food safety. With respect to dairy products, FSSAI has set stringent guidelines to ensure that consumers have access to safe and authentic products.
Importance of Consumer Awareness
While regulatory bodies like FSSAI are taking significant steps to combat misleading dairy products, consumer awareness remains paramount. By being vigilant and informed, consumers can protect themselves from falling victim to deceptive practices. It is essential to read labels carefully, verify certifications, and purchase dairy products from trusted sources. Additionally, consumers should report any suspicious products to the authorities, thereby playing an active role in maintaining food safety standards.
The concerns raised by FSSAI over misleading dairy products highlight the need for robust regulations and consumer awareness in the dairy industry. FSSAI’s proactive approach, along with industry collaboration, aims to eliminate misleading practices and ensure that consumers have access to safe and authentic dairy products. By fostering a culture of transparency, accountability, and consumer empowerment, we can collectively work towards a healthier and more trustworthy dairy market. Let’s prioritize consumer safety and make informed choices for a better future.