Through a notification the FSSAI has spelled out the policy for the import of Quinoa seeds. At present there are no specific standards for this new food grain from South America. Therefore till such time as new standards are in provided by FSSAI for Quinoa seeds, importers will need to adhere to the standards as given in Foods Safety and Standards (Food Products standards and Food Additives) Regulations 2011 under the category ‘Food Grains’ in sub-regulation dealing with food grains “where food grains have not been specified in the standards.”
The imported Quinoa seeds would have to also conform to the plant quarantine standards of the Ministry of Agriculture.
About Quinoa Seeds
In ancient times Quinoa was an important crop for the Inca Empire of South America and they called it the “mother of all grains” and believed it was sacred. Researchers have studied the antioxidant phytonutrients in Quinoa, and have determined that the two flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol are found in large concentrations which perhaps are the reason why it is considered good for health. The food grain also has various members of the vitamin E family like alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol.
Quinoa seeds do not come under any known category of foods but since it is consumed like a cereal it has been grouped with cereals like wheat, barley, oats, etc. However, some categorise the Quinoa grass a leafy food like Swiss chard. What is important is that even the FAO has called this food as one that has “high nutritive value,” and since it has a good biodiversity is likely to play an important role to play in the achievement of food security worldwide.
However, Quinoa is unknown to most people in the world as it is grown mostly in South America. Quinoa is being popularised also because it has valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat and has small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Quinoa is not prone to oxidation despite the large fat content and therefore cooking or boiling Quinoa does not have an adverse effect on the quality of fat.