Gazette Notification of Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022

Veganism has come a long way. It evolved over the years from merely an ideology sparking political debates in context of environmentalism and save-earth movements to a

healthy lifestyle choice, which nowadays many people adhere to. However, for many years, there has been a persistent ambiguity in terms of what products qualify as vegan and how can manufacturers make sure that their product classifies as certified vegan. This is partly due to the fact that while most countries have a proper framework for regulating vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, many of them lack a proper standard when it comes to vegan foods which has caused confusion for years in production and marketing lines.

Vegan Foods Regulations: India took its first progressive step towards the establishment of a functional and proper regulatory framework on 6th September 2021, publishing its very first draft regulations regarding vegan foods in the country. This has made India, one of the first countries in the world to provide regulatory guidelines regarding vegan

food. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (‘FSSAI‘), on 10th June 2022 published in the gazette the final Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations 2022, laying down the final regulatory guidelines for vegan foods. These regulations include the definition of “vegan foods”, general requirements, labelling and display requirements and vegan food compliance.

Definition: The clause which defines vegan foods in the guidelines, defines the term “vegan foods” as any food or food ingredient, including additives, flavorings, enzymes, carriers and processing aids, that are not products of animal origin, and in which, at no stage of production and processing, ingredients including the abovementioned, that are of animal origin has been used. In essence, any product that is of animal origin or has been processed using any material of animal origin will not classify as vegan food as per

the regulation. Some of the examples of products of animal origin include dairy products like milk, bee products like honey and insect products like silk. Some processing materials that are usually of animal origin include, bone charcoal which is used to refine sugar and isinglass which is used in clarifying beer.

General requirements: One of the most important requirements of classifying a food product as vegan, is that the product should not be animal tested for any purpose whatsoever, including safety evaluation, unless it is legally provided otherwise, by a regulatory authority. Secondly, the food business operator, has to strictly ensure that all the stages of production, processing and distribution are in conformity with “Good Manufacturing Practices” so as to avoid any unintended presence of non-vegan substances. Furthermore, the operator must ensure that if the production line is shared with non-vegan products, then before the commencement of vegan food production, actions like thorough cleaning in place of associated machinery, equipment and surfaces is mandatory. Therefore, undertaking appropriate precautions when manufacturing vegan foods is a paramount requirement.

In addition to this, traceability is established up to the manufacturer level in order to encourage transparency and existence of fair and reasonable manufacturing practices. Apart from these requirements, the Food Authority, in order to maintain the vegan integrity of vegan food products can also specify other requirements that must be complied with by the operator.

 

Labeling and Display Requirements: These are basic requirements that ensure that vegan food is easily identifiable at a store for vegan food consumers. The requirements are as such: Vegan food products will have a distinct logo. While using the logo, the food business operators must comply with all other regulations, including the FSS Labelling & Display Regulations 2020. However, the food business operator may replace the veg – green dot logo with the vegan logo. Additionally, just like the FSS Organic Regulations, these vegan food regulations also require the sellers to store and display the products in a distinguishable manner from non-vegan foods.

 

Vegan Food Compliance: The food business operators are required to obtain permission from the Authority before using the logo. We believe that the framework that the Authority will put out would be based on self-certification, to ensure that the food business operators comply with the requirements of these vegan food regulations. The said regulations also provide that imported vegan foods would need to get a certificate from the recognized authority in the exporting country. These regulations will have a significant impact of the nascent vegan food industry in India. While some compliances may be considered as onerous, these regulations will aid in bringing operational clarity for the vegan food industry.