Introduction

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (hereinafter referred to as the “Ministry”) released a draft notice calling for suggestions, views, comments, etc., from stakeholders on the draft “Food Safety and Standards (Advertisements and Claims) Regulations, 2017” (hereinafter referred to as the “Regulations”).

The Ministry vide the said regulations has proposed comprehensive changes in the law to restrict the use of terms like "fresh", "natural", "traditional", "original" and other terms in advertisements for food products.

Use of Certain word/phrases

1. Natural/ Real/ Genuine

Such word may be used to describe a single food derived from a recognized source such as plant, animal, microorganism or mineral and to which nothing has been added. Further it may be subjected only to such processing which would only make it suitable for human consumption like:

  • smoking without chemicals, cooking processes such as roasting, blanching and dehydration;
  • freezing, concentration, pasteurization, and sterilization; and
  • packaging done without chemicals and preservatives.

Such word may even be used to describe Permitted food additives that are obtained from natural sources (e.g. plant by appropriate physical processing). Compound foods shall not be described directly or by implication as “Natural”. Such foods may be described as “made from natural ingredients”. Words such as “natural goodness”, “naturally better”, and “nature’s way” shall not be used.

Such regulations for the word “Natural” shall also apply to use of other words such as “Real” and “Genuine”, when used in place of “Natural “in such a way as to imply similar benefits.

2. Fresh

Such term shall only be used on products which have not been processed in any manner except, which are washed, peeled, chilled, trimmed or cut, or other processing necessary for making the product safe for human consumption without altering its basic characteristics in any manner.

A food containing additives and/or subjected to packaging, storing or any other supply chain processes that control freshness shall not be termed as “freshly stored”, “freshly packed” etc.

3. Traditional

Such term shall only be used to describe a recipe, a fundamental formulation or a processing method for a product that has existed for a significant period running over generations, and should have been available substantially unchanged for that same period.

4. Original

Such term shall only be used to describe a food that is made to a formulation, the origin of which can be traced, and that has remained essentially unchanged over time.

It should not contain replacements for major ingredients. It may similarly be used to describe a process, provided it is the process first used in the making of the food, and which has remained essentially unchanged over time, although it may be mass-produced.

5. Pure

Such term shall only be used to describe a single ingredient food to which nothing has been added and which is free from avoidable contamination. The levels of unavoidable contaminants shall need to be significantly below the levels given in the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011.

Compound foods shall not generally be described, directly or by implication, as “pure” but such foods may be described as “made with pure ingredients”.

6. Premium/ Finest/ Best/ Authentic/ Genuine/ Real

Such terms may be used only if the label or advertisement clarify in what way the overall quality is tangibly justified and why the particular term has been used.

The draft further highlights as follows that:-

  • No promotion of sale, supply, use and consumption of articles of foods shall be made using FSSAI logo and license number.
  • Advertisements shall also not undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles.
  • Advertisements for food or beverages shall not be promoted or portrayed as a meal replacement.
  • Claims in advertisements shall not be inconsistent with information on the label or packaging of the food or beverage.