INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has announced that alcoholic beverage makers will need to seek approvals from excise commissioners to adopt new labelling norms, including statutory warnings on liquor bottles.
According to FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the new set of labelling regulations are expected to be fully operational in six months.
Manufacturers have been given a six-months grace period to use unused labels and printed cans, which will then be faced out of the market if the set period elapses before they are sold.
FSSAI has also allowed alcoholic beverages manufactured prior to April 1, 2019 to be sold in the market up to March 31, 2020, when the new labeling rules will come into full force.
With the new rules, all liquor bottles will carry the warning ‘consumption of alcohol is injurious to health. Be safe-don’t drink and drive’.
“I think for alcoholic beverages sector, the implementation of these standards is a significant way forward in order to improve the quality and standards of alcoholic beverages available in the country,” said Agarwal.
“So far, it was primarily regulated by excise commissioners and they were only looking at alcoholic content and the toxic substances in alcohol.
“Now, there are far more elaborate standards that are benchmarked with the global standards and in certain cases, they have taken the Indian context also in consideration.”
According to Agarwal, the law will be enforced by excise commissioners as well as food safety commissioners.
On the labelling norms, the FSSAI’s CEO said the new labels including statutory warning would be fully effective from October 1.
“We are not changing norms for languages as it is a sensitive issue as in many states, they do it in English and in other states, they do it in English as well as local languages,” Agarwal said.
In February, FSSAI had ruled that alcoholic beverages should carry statutory warning with large font size, that is those with pack size up to 200ml shall be not less than 1.5 mm, while those with pack size above 200ml, the font size shall not be less than 3 mm.
Last year, FSSAI had issued a similar notification requiring statutory warning on all liquor bottles, with the regulations effective 1 April 2019.
Meanwhile, FSSAI’s chief has launched EAT-Lancet Commission report ‘Food Planet Health’ in India, which proposes scientific targets for what constitutes a healthy diet derived from a sustainable food system.
Based on the findings of this report, Agarwal said the government would bring a region-specific dietary guideline to help people in leading a healthy life.