There has been significant debate regarding the constitution of blended vegetable oils. The food authority of India had earlier in 2018 realised the ill effects of marketing vegetable oils as ‘heart healthy’, ‘cholesterol safe’ and other such claims. The FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) is thus working to bring transparency in the sale of vegetable oils and to avoid labelling or branding packages with tall or incorrect claims. They want consumers to be aware that the ingredients may be blended into vegetable oils. As such, the FSSAI has recently issued a direction to relabel ‘Blended Edible Oils’ as ‘Multi source edible oils’, omitting the word ‘vegetable’ from a previous nomenclature.
Why this revision?
This revision is being carried out due to concerns regarding labelling of packages by food businesses. A previous revision had mandated the labelling of ‘Blended Edible Vegetable Oil’ (BEVO) as ‘Multi sourced edible vegetable oil’ which was a significantly large nomenclature which would prove to be difficult for food businesses to label on their products. To ease the trouble, this revision has removed the term ‘vegetable’ from the nomenclature to align it on packages.
Effect of the new regulation
When the compliance comes into effect, this revision will affect food businesses, particularly manufacturers of vegetable oils since they will need to make several amendments on the labelling, packaging of the products, and conform to the display rules wherever specified by the regulations.
Market will see change
The vegetable oil market will see a change since food business operators will be uniform in their packaging. This move is aimed at transparency with respect to food packages as consumers will know the precise constituency of its contents. Food business operators will need to quickly clear out their existing stock and inventory of tables consisting of non-compliant packaging before the regulation comes into force. The market may be riddled with bulk sales and discounts on old stock of vegetable oils.
Compliance guidelines and labelling norms
- Vegetable oil products will need to be rebranded as ‘Multi source edible oil’ wherever specified from the date of effect of the new regulations.
- Font size, nomenclature on the packages as well as warnings/statements on sweeteners need to be changed accordingly to align with the new label.
- Packages containing an admixture of edible oils will need to carry the label ‘Multi source edible oil’ in bold, capital letters immediately underneath the brand name on the front of the package.
- Package sizes below 1 litre need to show the label in a font size of minimum 3 mm and the declaration statement of minimum 35 mm in length.
- Package sizes between 1 litre and 5 litres need to show the label in a font size of minimum 4 mm and the declaration statement of minimum 45 mm in length.
- For packages sized above 5 litres, label font size must be a minimum 10 mm.
- Lastly, the package must bear the following label in bold, capitals at the front ‘NOT TO BE SOLD LOOSE’.
Deadline for compliance
The revised compliance guidelines will be operationalised from 17 November 2021 and food business operators have until this time to clear out old stock before complying with the new nomenclature.
Vegetable oil products will need to be rebranded as ‘Multi source edible oil’ wherever specified from the date of effect of the new regulations.
What’s in it for me?
The costs involved to comply with the new regulations is mainly around packaging. The labels and displays need to be revised and the old stock with non-compliance will need to be discarded if not cleared before the date of effect. In a bid to clear existing stock, you may also need to slash wholesale prices so that wastage can be reduced.
FSSAI’s move will benefit vegetable and cooking oil brands in the long run since it will foster ownership among manufacturers to be transparent with their ingredients. The move will also mitigate food adulteration and will lead to production of healthier versions of vegetable oils. With the precise labelling, aggressive sales and marketing strategies will also reduce. As you are aware, a lot of cooking oil brands have been positioning themselves as ‘heart healthy’, ‘heart safe’ and ‘cholesterol fighters’ and other similar advertising strategies for a long time.
When adulteration reduces and transparency improves, India will eventually see a reduction in imports of vegetable oils. This will be beneficial for domestic manufacturers in the long run.