India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) has released new definitions, regulations, and a mandatory logo to help businesses identify what products can be labelled and sold as vegan.
The new definition of vegan food under the Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022 is the following: “Vegan food means the food or food ingredient, including additives, flavourings, enzymes and carriers, or processing aids that are not products of animal origin and in which, at no stage of production and processing, ingredients, including additives, flavourings, enzymes and carriers, or processing aids that are of animal origin has been used… The food products to be called vegan, shall not have involved animal testing for any purpose, including safety evaluation, unless provided by any Regulatory Authority.” This definition is very much in line with similar definitions found around the world of vegan trademarks.
The regulations stipulate that the seller of vegan food must store and display the food in a way that distinguishes it from non-vegan food, and all packages of vegan food should also display the logo specified by the FSSAI to help consumers identify it as a vegan product. If the same production line is shared with non-vegan products or ingredients, thorough cleaning must be carried out before starting production of the vegan products. As far as importing vegan food is concerned, the FSSAI says that no vegan products can be imported without a certificate issued by the recognised authorities of the exporting country in a format that is acceptable by the FSSAI. If all countries had such strong pro-vegan legislation, there would not be the need to keep fighting a war of labels regarding whether terms such as ‘sausage’ or ‘cheese’ can be used in a vegan product. For vegans, it should be much more important to ensure that no animal products are used in food labelled as vegan (as this new regulation in India guarantees), than whether a vegan product should be allowed to use carnist language to describe it.