We all know the significance of Nutrient Function in our body. It is an essential substance for our body’s growth and energy and it is vital for our health. Thus, Nutrient Function is important for maintaining the amount of nutrient in a food.
The authorizing body which is responsible for regulating food safety and protecting public health in India is The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which is an autonomous body under Government of India for management of Health & Family Welfare. It is important for FSSAI to come up with guidelines necessary suiting the current requirement of the market and regulations which are beneficial to public health.
Guidelines of FSSAI Concerning Nutrient Function
The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on 14th October, 2020 has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) 1st Amendment Regulations, 2020 which have issued list of “Nutrient Function” claims that edible oil companies have to use on their labels while advertising their products.
These oil companies have to maintain the particular nutrient function as enlisted by FSSAI. The food authority have prescribed nutritional claims for fifteen edible oil used in the country including coconut, cottonseed, corn, groundnut, linseed/flaxseed, mustard, mustard/rapeseed (low erucic), olive, safflower, palm kernel, rice bran, palmolein, sesame, soybean and sunflower oil. It is mandatory for these oil companies to follow the given guidelines from 1st July, 2021.
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Liability of Food Business Operators
One of the essential conditions which the Food Business Operators need to ensure is that they can choose to use the same or similar terms in the claim statements as provided in this Schedule but they cannot change the intent of the claim. It is because the terms such as “rich in” and “contains” should be strictly used according to the schedule and its meaning must be intact.
For example, for the sale of olive oils like olive pomace oil and extra virgin olive oil, they can write on the their product label “Rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid that helps to balance the blood cholesterol levels” & “Contains polyphenols which are known to be natural antioxidants”, while advertising their product.
Why is it Important to add Nutrient Function in Edible Oil?
- For a proper human diet it is important to have nutrient edible oil. Edible oils are the source of energy and regulates cellular metabolism in the body.
- Edible oil is the most essential and basic necessity in every household. Therefore, it is important to improve its quality.
- Recent researchers have suggested that due to the large amount of fatty acids present in the oil, this is the reason behind why so many people are prone to high cardiovascular diseases, cancer and neurological diseases because of the high intake of calorie present in the oil.
- Edible oil is the main source of fat intake which is the major reason behind the global outbreak of obesity and overweight people which needs to be resolved.
- Adulteration of edible oil has been a matter of concern and it was urgent to address this concern for fair competition in the market and also for the protection of public health.
- Most of the vegetable oils in terms of manufacturing are source of edible Fatty Acids (saturated or polyunsaturated), which has a crucial role in division of cell, development and growth of human body. They are an important part of membranes of cell, hormonal growth, neurotransmitters etc. Intake of different fatty acids has a direct influence on human health. Therefore, it is considered and preferred to have edible oil low or moderate in saturated fatty acids.
The Main Purpose of declaring Nutrient Function by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
It deliberately wants to regulate and increase the content of essential micronutrients in food which are rich in omega and Unsaturated fatty acids in order to improve the food quality.
It is to establish fairness in claims and advertisements of the products so as to make the food business accountable in order to serve and protect the consumer’s interest.
For the development and growth of nutra industry as these nutra and edible oil will claim to lower the cholesterol levels which will be according to the standards set and beneficial for public health.
Other Important Factors under Regulation
The other important factors under the regulations are given below:-
Disease Mitigating Claims
The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come up with regulations for few of the product categories like nutraceuticals, health/ dietary supplements, food for special dietary use etc that they shall be prepared so as to satisfy the claims for mitigating diseases and it will be done according to the scientific evidence.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, immunity boosters are highly in demand in the market including packaged and natural foods, nutraceuticals and Ayurvedic products.
The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has requested the State Government to scrutinize the claims and observe that the norms and standards set under these categories have been duly complied.
It is an Ayurveda food which is coming up by the collaboration of Ayurvedic food products with the Ayush Ministry for Ayurveda foods. Ministry of Ayush has requested Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to scrutinize and probe the claims that breach the Ministry’s guidelines and that their claims must be substantiated by evidence.
It is mandatory for The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to perform various functions for improving the quality and standards of food. So, FSSAI is under an obligation to stay updated with the current situation and frame guidelines fulfilling the requirement of the situation. Therefore, generating “Nutrient Function” for edible oil was a strongly needed. And similarly it is equally important for the oil companies to strictly follow the guidelines and label the nutrients on their products while advertisements.
If any company in India is found to be violating the guidelines set by the authority then their products shall be flagged off and they will be given an opportunity to support their claim only with the available scientific evidence and the standards set in the guidelines.
Where any new claim is not scientifically supported then it can only be passed after preliminary consent from the food safety authority and after going through strict procedure of inspection of scientific proof. Therefore, to meet the quality requirements, it is important to ensure that the products are made according to the standards and are serving the better purpose of improving public health and life.
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