​Open to changes in new standards to support growth of food supplements and nutraceuticals industry: FSSAI

The Food Safety and Standards Health Supplements Nutraceuticals Food for Special Dietary Use Food for Special Medical Purpose Functional Food and Novel Food Regulations was issued last December
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Food regulator, FSSAI has assured the food supplements and nutraceuticals industry that it is open to making changes in the new standards to support growth of the sector, but without compromising on consumers’ interest.

The Food Safety and Standards (Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Food and Novel Food) Regulations was issued last December.

Food Business Operators (FBOs) need to comply with these standards by January 1, 2018.

While addressing a Assocham conference on nutraceuticals, Pawan Kumar Agarwal, CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), expressed concern over the increasing number of spurious food supplement products in the market.

Agarwal said, "We released standards on food supplements and nutraceuticals few months ago. There were some concerns from the industry but we went ahead and released the standards. But our effort is not to cast them in stone as these are evolving standards."

He said, "I want to assure the industry that if there are concerns, we are still open to change that. We have 5-6 months time before this regulation come in force. So, hopefully, we will iron out differences."

Agarwal further said that it has got many representations from the industry seeking some changes in the regulations related to inclusion of ingredients.

He said, "Food supplements is a difficult sector to regulate. But for us consumers interest is paramount and non-negotiable."

Agarwal asked manufacturers to be cautious in declaring any claims about the products.

He said, "A large number of spurious products are available in the market, there is no robust framework for testing of food supplement products."

FSSAI has set up a technical panel, which includes representation from industry as well, to prepare a framework for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).

He said, "We do hope that it will bring greater clarity to have a more robust ecosystem for manufacturing, processing and distribution of food supplements in the country."

Agarwal said, "There is immense opportunity in this industry, but bad name to food supplements sector by few dubious players can hamper the growth of this sunrise industry".

JP Meena, Food Processing Secretary, said, "The size of this industry is currently $3-4 billion and is growing at 20 per cent."

He said, "There is a great potential for this sector as the market is huge for these products in India as well as overseas."

Meena said, "There is a need to keep the price of food supplements and nutraceuticals at an affordable level."

He emphasised on industry focus on backward linkages to ensure traceability and also on organised cultivation of plants required for nutraceuticals production.

Meena said that the government has recently launched Rs 6000 crore Sampada scheme to boost food processing and asked industry to avail benefit of this scheme.

He asked food supplement industry to set up units in mega food parks instead of establishing standalone facilities.