Through its notification in January 2016 the FSSAI has amended the existing guidelines for proprietary foods. Proprietary foods are non-standardised food products that are being manufactured in India for centuries.
In the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, the FSSAI has revised the definition & the existing guidelines on proprietary foods. FSSAI has now defined proprietary foods as “an article of food that has not been standardized under these regulations, but does not include any novel food, food for special dietary use, functional food, nutraceuticals, health supplement and such other articles of food which the Central Government may notify in this behalf”.
According to the new guidelines in the regulations, proprietary foods are permitted to contain only those ingredients
- for which standards are available in the regulations
- and ingredients which have been permitted for use in the preparation of other standardised food products
The additives used in proprietary food products will be used when it is
- specified for the Category to which the food belongs
- the category will be clearly displayed on the label along with its name, nature and composition
- These food products will comply with the food additives provisions as prescribed in Appendix A and the microbiological specifications as prescribed in Appendix B of these Regulations and all other Regulations made under this Act.
In simple words, the FBOs who are manufacturing/processing the proprietary foods can use the approved ingredients and additives. However, the FSSAI has clearly mentioned that the full responsibility for the safety of the proprietary food products will lie with the FBO that is making these proprietary foods. This provision for holding the FBO responsible for the safety of the food product is particularly important as these foods might contain high levels of fat, salt and sweets and which are categorised as ready to eat savouries. When they are categorised as sweets & confectionery products then they also have high sugar content besides fat. These products are generally non-nutritive and so the consumer is not aware of the nutritional values which could, therefore, create a health hazard for consumers.
Another question that comes to mind is what happens if the use of these additives and ingredients is permitted, but the food product is not defined in any category for the use of these additives and ingredients in the regulations, like certain confectionery and bakery products or savouries and sweets which are being manufactured for centuries? To find answer to this question, you have to follow the Regulation No. 3.1.1 (Clause 2) which talks about the list of Foods defined as Traditional/Ethnic Foods.