The ever-evolving landscape of food safety regulations in India has witnessed another milestone as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently unveiled a significant amendment1 to the Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations, 20182 (for brevity "Regulations"). To fully appreciate the implications of this recent amendment, it is essential to delve into the historical context of its inception.
This amendment, which was initially drafted and published in the Gazette of India on 17th May 2022, is mandated by section 92(1) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Following a 60-day window for public suggestions and objections, FSSAI has now unveiled the final version of this amendment after careful consideration.
Understanding the OIML
The Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) First Amendment Regulations, 2023 (for brevity "Amended Regulations") are set to be enforced starting from 1st March 2024. This transitional period affords manufacturers, distributors, and retailers the time necessary to adapt to the new labelling requirements and definitions.
The Amended Regulations bring several key takeaways into the limelight. Here are the major highlights:
Malt or Grain Whisky Revisions3:
Single Malt Whisky: The amendment introduces a refined definition of single malt whisky, which is now characterized as a distillate obtained exclusively from fermented mash that employs malted barley, with no other grain additives. Furthermore, it must be distilled using pot stills and produced within a single distillery.
Example: Consider the case of a renowned whisky producer in India. Previously, they labelled a certain product as "single malt whisky" even though it contained traces of other grains in the fermentation process. With the new regulations, they will be required to change the label to accurately reflect the product's classification as "single grain whisky."
Single Grain Whisky: This category encompasses distillates produced in a single distillery using either malted or unmalted grains, but crucially, it excludes single malt whiskies, blended malt whiskies, and blended grain whiskies.
In other words, the definition of single malt whisky has undergone a transformation. It now exclusively refers to a distillate obtained from fermented mash that uses malted barley without any addition of other grains. This whisky must also be distilled using a pot still and produced within a single distillery. Moreover, the new regulations introduce the concept of single-grain whisky, involving a distillate obtained from a fermented mash using malted or unmalted grain.
However, this category explicitly excludes single malt whisky, blended malt whisky, and blended grain whisky.
Labelling Norms Update4:
Perhaps the most notable change in this amendment is the exclusion of nutritional I information from alcoholic beverage labels. Part 5 of the regulations governs labelling requirements. The only exception permitted is the declaration of energy content in kilocalories (kcal), which remains a voluntary declaration for producers.
Example: Until now, consumers in India could easily find information on the nutritional content of alcoholic beverages, including details about carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and more. With the new regulations, this information will no longer be available on the labels, except for the calorie count. This change may impact consumers who have grown accustomed to making informed choices based on nutritional data.
|(i) Single malt or Single grain whisky: Single malt or Single grain whisky is a distillate obtained from fermented mash that uses one particular malted barley or malted grain, respectively, distilled in pot still only, and produced in a single distillery.||
(i) Single malt whiskyis a distillate obtained from fermented mash that uses malted barley without adding any other grain, which is distilled in pot still only and produced in a single distillery.
(ia) Single grain whisky is a distillate obtained from a fermented mash that uses malted or unmalted grain, and produced in a single distillery. Single grain whisky shall not include single malt whisky and blended malt whisky or blended grain whisky
|5.5Alcoholic beverage shall not contain any nutritional information on the label.||5.5 Alcoholic beverage shall not contain any nutritional information on the label except energy content in kcal. Such declaration related to energy content shall be voluntary|
The FSSAI's unwavering commitment to enhancing food safety and quality standards in India is clearly evident in its continuous efforts to refine regulations and ensure consumer protection. The Amended Regulations, signify a significant step forward in aligning regulations with evolving industry practices while prioritizing transparency and information for consumers. As the implementation date approaches, stakeholders in the alcoholic beverage sector are strongly advised to familiarize themselves with these amendments to ensure compliance and a seamless transition. These changes not only enhance the clarity surrounding alcoholic beverages but also reinforce FSSAI's commitment to serving the best interests of consumers and the industry alike.
1. ]Notification- CG-DL-E-23082023-248239, Dated August 23, 2023, Available at:https://www.fssai.gov.in/upload/notifications/2023/08/64e6eb3635eb8FSS%20(Alcoholic %20Beverages)%20First%20amendment%20regulations,%202023.pdf
3. Regulation 2.8.1 (i) of the Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations, 2018
4. Regulation 5.5 of the Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations, 2018
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.