FSSAI issues draft notification to curb malpractice in edible oils

n a bid to tackle malpractices such as adulteration of edible oils with cheaper substitutes and display of misleading health claims on product labels, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft notification specifying the standards for edible oils and their fatty acid compositions for determining authenticity. Titled Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulation, 2017, the draft states, “Since the fatty acid composition is different for edible oil, the amendment will help to expose and curb two malpractices in the edible oil sector – (a) the adulteration of expensive oils with cheaper oils and (b) misleading label claims on the composition of blended oils, thereby to determine the authenticity of oils in case of adulteration and quantification of the proportion of oils used in blended oils.” Mukesh Gupta, executive director, Morarka Foundation, Rajasthan, and expert, FSSAI, explains the move, “Till the new notification by FSSAI, the manufacturers and marketers of oils and fats were not required to adhere to and label the different constituents. Thus, they were able to mask the real contents, and could sell only by making claims about healthy attributes without substantiating them.” Gupta adds, “The new law by FSSAI mandates that each and every component of oils and fats must adhere to the specifications as prescribed, and will also be known to consumers. This will prevent the companies from making false claims.” He points out, “Additionally, many manufacturers and marketers have launched or introduced blends. Mostly these blends have a little quantity of good-quality healthy oil and a higher proportion of unhealthy oil,” adding, “But earlier, they were getting away by merely claiming the healthy tag without giving a full description, but with the new law, they will need to declare and adhere to the specifications as per the scientific terms only.”