INDIA – The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has said it will allow craft breweries to continue making beer with higher yeast content, reversing the yeast count restrictions imposed earlier in February.

The news come as a relief to micro-breweries in the country as craft beers have yeast content as high as 3 million CFU.

FSSAI has also announced that it will provide drinks makers another six months for use of old unused labels and printed cans.

“The Food Safety & Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations, 2018 will be implemented in effect from 1st April 2019, except the parameter for yeast in various categories of beer,” said FSSAI in a statement.

“Alcoholic beverages manufactured prior to 1st April 2019 can be sold in the market up to 31st March 2020.”

This follows an outcry from craft brewers with Craft Brewers Association of India (CBAI) saying that it was difficult to operate under the limits previously ordered by the regulator.

Beer makers were seeking clarifications on the restriction highlighting that it does not give clear directions on yeast as an integral ingredient and raw material in the beer brewing process.

The regulator had said that regular beer or lager should be free of yeast while draught beer should have yeast content of at most 40 CFU (colony-forming units).

According to FSSAI, the new regulations would ensure yeast and moulds count in beer made across the country was maintained within safe levels while promoting health and safety standards during the brewing and packaging process.

The microbreweries said the new regulations would implicate on the considerable amounts of revenues generated from craft beer sales highlighting that only commercial lagers like Budweiser will be able to meet the permissible count.

Number of microbreweries in India is estimated at 170, greatly contributing to the growth of the beer industry.

Some of the outstanding craft beer labels include Bira, White Rhino and Simba.

Last year, FSSAI issued a directive requiring all liquor bottles to carry cautionary messages of “Drinking is injurious to health” and “Don’t Drink and Drive” on their labels from April 1.