Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages Standards) Regulations, 2016

fss-alcoholic-beverages-standards-regulations-2016The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a set of draft regulations being the Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages Standards) Regulations, 2016, dated September 5, 2016 and published in the Official Gazette on September 6, 2016.

The FSSAI through the draft regulations intends to regulate both distilled and un-distilled alcoholic beverages such as brandy, beer, rum, vodka, whisky, wines, etc. The FSSAI has invited comments and suggestions on the draft regulations to be sent to it within a period of 30 (thirty) days from September 6, 2016.

The FSSAI by issuing regulations in relation to alcoholic beverages and setting out standards for the same has brought such beverages within the ambit of “food” in terms of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSSA). It will be interesting now to wait for the final regulations and standards to be issued by the FSSAI and also to understand the manner in which the FSSAI would enforce the regulations, as there have not been specific regulations governing alcoholic beverages in the past whether the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 or the FSSA.

 

Minimum Area of the Principal Display Panel – FSSA or Legal Metrology

Legal  MetrologyThe term ‘principal display panel’, very simply put, is that panel of a package on which all the label declarations, as required, must be set out, for the information and use of the consumer.

The FSSAI, in terms of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, requires the principal display panel of all food products to be of a minimum size. The details of the size and other requirements have been set out in the Packaging and Labelling Regulations. However, the Department of Legal Metrology, which also requires certain information to be set out on the principal display panel of packages, does not require the said principal display panel to be of a minimum size. As a result, the food industry has been complying with the requirements in relation to the minimum area of the principal display panel, as per the provisions of the Packaging and Labelling Regulations.

A recent amendment to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 has introduced a provision, in terms of Rule 7(5), which deals with the manner in which the area of the principal display panel is to be calculated, for the purposes of determining the height of the lettering of the label declarations. This has caused a considerable amount of confusion in the food industry, with some taking an interpretation that the Department of Legal Metrology has prescribed a ‘minimum area’ to be maintained, in relation to the principal display panel.

We however tend to disagree with the interpretation that a ‘minimum area’ for the principal display panel is required to be maintained, in terms of the Packaged Commodities Rules. First, it must be noted that this new sub-rule has been set out in Rule 7, which primarily relates to the minimum height of the letters and numerals required to be set out in various declarations. Second, the new sub-rule, no where states that the minimum area of the principal display panel must be as per the method set out therein. Rule 7(5) merely states that area of the principal display panel must be calculated and decided in the manner set out therein.

A careful reading of Rule 7 indicates that the Department of Legal Metrology has set out a formula, based on which the height of numerals is required to be calculated for various declarations. Rule 7(3) in Table II sets out the manner in which the height of numerals is required to be calculated in the event that the net quantity of a particular product is set out in length, area or number. In such cases, the minimum height of the numerals, in the various declarations, is dependent on the area of the principal display panel. This concept of ‘area of the principal display panel’ was earlier not set out anywhere in the Packaged Commodities Rules and therefore led to confusion in compliance. The Department of Legal Metrology, therefore, to clarify the said concept and to set out the manner in which the same is required to be calculated and determined, introduced sub-rule (5) to Rule 7, which merely states the manner in which the area of the principal display panel must be calculated and determined.

To conclude, in our view, the Department of Legal Metrology has not prescribed a minimum area of the principal display panel but has instead clarified the manner in which the height of numerals is required to be set out, in relation to those products where the net quantity is set out in area, length or number. The minimum area of the principal display panel would continue to be governed by the Packaging and Labelling Regulations.

Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011


The Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 have been amended, with effect from August 26, 2016, in relation to the radiation of food products.

The Food Products Standards Regulations, in terms of Regulation 2.13, set out the details in relation to irradiation of food such as the dose of irradiation, the products that could be subjected to irradiation etc. The amendment now has the effect of substituting the entire regulation and new provisions have been set out in relation to the radiation of food products.

Interestingly, the provisions in the Food Products Standards Regulations also set out the specific manner in which certain label declarations are required to be set out on such packages of food. The appropriate and consequent amendments have been made to the Packaging and Labelling Regulations removing the earlier details set out in relation to the labelling of food that has been subjected to radiation.

Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction On Sales) Regulations, 2011

Fruits

The Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011 has, with effect from August 26, 2016, been amended in relation to the prohibition of the use of carbide gas in the ripening of fruits and the manner in which blended edible vegetable oils may be sold.

The Prohibition Regulations have always prohibited the use of acetylene gas (commonly known as Carbide Gas) to artificially ripen fruits. The recent amendment to the Prohibition Regulations now permits fruits to be artificially ripened by the use of Ethylene Gas, however at a concentration of up to 100 ppm (100μl/L), depending upon the particular crop, the variety and the maturity.

In addition to the above, the Prohibition Regulations used to mandate that blended edible vegetable oil must be sold in sealed packages, with a volume of not more than 15 litres. The Regulations now have been amended whereby edible blended vegetable oil, whilst still being in sealed packages, be sold in quantities which must not exceed 15 kilograms.