Proprietary food means an article of food that has not been standardized under Food Safety & Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations 2011, but does not include any novel foods, foods for special dietary uses, foods for special medical purposes, functional foods, nutaceuticals and health supplements. A food business operator (FBO) who has license can manufacture these products and sell them by complying with the set standards for a specific food item.
New Law for Proprietary Food by FSSAI
In 2016, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) made an amendment in the existing regulations related to ‘proprietary food’. The changes relate to classification, manufacture and marketing of proprietary food. Before we try to understand what these changes are and what are the implications thereof for manufacturers and consumers, let’s get our notions about proprietary food in place.
There isn’t a specific list of proprietary foods. Any food item for which there isn’t any set standardisation by FSSAI can be considered to be proprietary food. They can be made from milk or milk products, from cereals, from eggs or meat and meat products, from vegetables, fruits, or nuts or fats. Some examples: ready-to-cook cereals such as instant poha and instant upma, popcorns, chips, nachos, instant coffee and tea premixes, masala mixes for different recipes, gulab jamun mix, cake mix, etc.
The label clearly specifies that it is a proprietary food. Also, the name of a specific category is mentioned – for example, traditional food, namkeen, breakfast cereal, coffee premix, and so on.
Guidelines for proprietary foods
According to the new guidelines, proprietary foods are permitted to contain only those ingredients (other than additives)
- a) for which standards are available in the regulations, and
- b) that have been permitted for use in the preparation of other standardised food products
FSSAI has finalised a list of 11,000 permissible additives after setting new standards for them, the food categories in which they can be used and their permissible limits. This will allow companies to use additives allowed on the list without approval and will significantly ease approvals. Earlier, companies needed to obtain product-wise approval for launching food products.
The proprietary food can only use additives specified for the food category to which it belongs. The food category shall be clearly mentioned on the label along with its name, nature and composition.
The proprietary food product must comply with the provisions and microbiological specifications for food additives prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards Regulations (considering the revised versions). Last but not the least, the food business operator will be fully responsible for the safety of the proprietary food sold by them.
Additionally, in a corrigendum issued on 15 June 2016, the FSSAI has clearly specified the limits for addition of vitamins and minerals in the proprietary food. Accordingly, proprietary foods containing added vitamins and minerals should not exceed 30 per cent of recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Indians. The recommended dietary allowances for different nutrients have been calculated by National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, Indian Council of Medical Research (revised in 2010).
Implications of the amendments for the proprietary food
The new amendments are expected to facilitate the emergence of new innovations in the food industry, thereby providing consumers a variety of products to choose from. It will boost the global practice of ingredient-based product approval in India.
One major revised change in the amendment is that related to nutraceuticals and health supplements. They are no longer classified as ‘proprietary foods’. Standards for nutraceuticals are being established by FSSAI separately. This will enable establishment of appropriate health and nutrition claims and specific standards for the nutraceuticals segment. Also, by regulating the addition of vitamins and minerals in proprietary foods, FSSAI has ensured that no misleading health/nutrition claims can be made by food marketers. This move is not just consumer-friendly but is also being appreciated by FBOs associated with the nutraceuticals and the dietary supplement industry.
Nutraceuticals can be classified as dietary supplements, including vitamins and minerals, and functional food and beverages such as those fortified with omega fatty acids and probiotics, and energy and sports drinks.