INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed e-commerce platforms to delist plant-based products as dairy milk products in line with a government regulation that non-milk products cannot be classified and sold as ‘dairy’ products. 

“The general standard for milk and milk products under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations clearly lays down guidelines for use of dairy in the nomenclature of products,” FSSAI noted. 

 “These regulations state that use of any dairy term for a product which is not milk or a composite milk product is prohibited and any such action is in contravention of the regulations.”

The new directive follows a recent campaign by the Dairy Federation of India to end the current practice where dairy and alternative dairy products are put into the same category. 

Its implementation will affect Dozens of brands in India such as Sofit and NatureVit sell packaged soya, almond or coconut milk which are listed on e-commerce grocery platforms as dairy products. 

The proliferation of non-milk alternatives—from cashew to soy to coconut—has unsettled dairy farmers and other stakeholders in the milk industry. 

Fearing an impending loss of business, the dairy industry world-over has battled to protect its own turf, actively lobbying for legislation that prevents the association of any alternative dairy products with dairy terms. 

In the US back in 2017, some 36 members of Congress penned a letter to the FDA pleading for a ban on using the word “milk” for anything but liquid coaxed from a cow’s udder. 

That same year, the Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday ruled that purely plant-based products cannot, in principle, be marketed with designations such as ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yogurt’, which are reserved by EU law for animal products. 

The case in India is therefore not an isolated case. Dairy farmers and the entire industry is jittery about the plant-based revolution and is willing to do anything to protect its turf. 

“This move by the regulator will protect the interests of consumers and farmers. Besides, most of the raw materials used by plant-based products are imported,” Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) managing director RS Sodhi said: 

As the battle for dairy consumers continues, the dairy industry in India has also called for the incorporation of a logo for dairy products to help customers to identify and differentiate dairy products from non-dairy ones. 

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE