Navigating the Regulations on Advertising and Claims for Smart Protein Products in India

In an effort to protect consumers and equip them to make informed decisions about their food choices, the food regulatory body in India – the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has laid down regulations for advertising food products and making claims about them – such as ‘Vegan’. This article seeks to provide a snapshot of the advertising and claims regulations in India for smart protein producers. Detailed information about the regulations can be found in the Good Food Institute India’s Regulatory Mini-Guide series, which can be found here.

(The link will take you to the live guide on google drive, which is regularly updated. If you have any queries or would like to raise any concerns and give feedback, please contact the GFI India team at india@gfi.org)

Food Business Operators (FBOs) looking to make health, nutrition, non-addition, and conditional claims must refer to the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018. As per this regulation, FBOs cannot use the words/phrases such as ‘natural,’ ‘fresh,’ ‘original,’ ‘traditional,’ ‘premium,’ ‘finest,’ ‘best,’ ‘authentic,’ ‘genuine,’ ‘real,’ etc. on food labels except under specific conditions detailed therein. Such restrictions are primarily aimed at reducing the open-ended use of these terms without providing evidence to corroborate their use. Further, in certain instances, FBOs may be required to obtain ‘prior approval’ by submitting scientific evidence to make certain health and nutrition claims. The regulation simplifies the process for FBOs by listing a set of already permitted claims. There are defined criteria that need to be fulfilled to display different types of nutrition claims (including nutrient content or nutrient comparative claims), non-addition claims (including non-addition of sugars and sodium salts), health claims (reduction of disease risk), claims related to dietary guidelines or healthy diets, and conditional claims. It also highlights claims that are specifically prohibited.

The FSSAI has also recently tried to address the growing consumer interest in smart protein (also known globally as alternative protein) – specifically plant-based products derived from plant sources to substitute or provide an alternative to animal-derived meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood. Through the Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulation, 2022, the FSSAI has defined ‘Vegan foods’ and the approval process for endorsement. For certification, FBOs must submit an application under Form-A of the regulation with the necessary documentation and an application fee of INR 25,000 per product variant.

The regulatory guide also has information on non-compliance with the Advertising Standards Council of India’s voluntary guidelines, which contain a code of best practices and principles for advertising.

*This is the obligatory fine print: this guide and other published content are not legal advice and should not be construed as such. It has been prepared for general informational purposes only, and readers are encouraged to seek professional counsel to address questions specific to their situation

 

 

Go to the full Advertising and Claims Guide