India’s FSSAI to regulate alcohol for the first time

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

With FSSAI's new legislation, alcoholic beverage bottles will soon come with warnings on their labels. ©GettyImages
With FSSAI's new legislation, alcoholic beverage bottles will soon come with warnings on their labels. ©GettyImages

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FFSAI) is set to regulate alcoholic beverages in the country to ensure it is within a safe and permissible limit.

The new legislation covers beer, wine, brandy, gin, rum, whisky and vodka.

The regulations help to ensure that only the prescribed percentage of alcohol in the drink is permitted.

FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal stated that the new regulations will be under the Food Product Safety & Standards (Alcoholic Beverages Standard) Regulations 2018.

Agarwal told Mail Today: "There was no regulation on alcohol in our country. It is for the first time FSSAI is regulating such beverages.

“The final standards have been sent to the Union Health Ministry for Health Minister's approval and will be notified very soon."

The regulations on the permissible limit includes alcoholic beverages that are imported into India from other countries.

Drunk driving warnings, with images?

Furthermore, with drunk driving being a major issue in India, alcoholic beverage bottles will soon come with warnings on their labels such as: “Be safe, don’t drink and drive.”

This will complement the existing warning: “Alcohol is injurious to health.”

Activist and founder of NGO Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) Prince Singhal said that as many as 100,000 deaths in India each year are caused by drunk driving.

According to TheNew Indian Express​, India’s Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways data stated that drunk driving accounts for 4.8% of total crashes every year, but more than 70% of the victims perish.

Singhal had earlier filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition to the Delhi High Court seeking to place pictorial warnings on drunk driving on all the labels of alcoholic beverage bottles.

The High Court then asked the FSSAI to look into the issue and the factors surrounding the possibility.

So far there have been discussions and a meeting between FSSAI officials and liquor brand representatives, including on proposed designs of the pictorial warnings, but there has been no agreement on such a practice.

Recently, some doubt has been cast on the capability and practices of the FSSAI by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), especially regarding its standards and processes. Nonetheless, India’s food regulator rebuffed the report​.

According to an FSSAI official, the new alcohol regulations have a two-prong objective: To control the alcohol market, as well as to ensure food safety for consumers.

Related topics: Policy, South Asia, Food safety, Beverages

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