FSSAI bars selling of health supplements as medicines

The Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) has issued new regulations proposing to ban the sale of health supplements as medicines.

"Every package of food or health supplements shall carry the information on the label ... the words FOOD or HEALTH SUPPLEMENT... the term 'NOT FOR MEDICINAL USE' shall be prominently written on the label," a draft order issued by the FSSAI states.

The move is aimed at checking the selling food supplements as medicines through the misuse of labels. Under the new regulations, companies cannot claim that their nutraceuticals and health supplement products are for therapeutic or curative purposes.

The food safety watchdog has also framed regulations for products based on ayurveda, sidhha, unani and other traditional health systems.

The FSSAI has proposed to fix the permissible limits of various ingredients used in the products which are based on traditional health systems.

The regulator has also proposed the maximum limit for levels of cow milk, buffalo milk, camel milk, ghee, curd, butter, honey, gold, gold foil, silver, pearl in ayurveda, siddha and unani ingredients based products. The limit has been fixed as maximum usage levels per day for use as a health or food supplements which are based on ayurveda, siddha and unani.

The FSSAI said that benefits of speciality foods containing ingredients based on ayurveda, unani and siddha and other traditional health systems of India should be backed by science based evidence.

Meanwhile, the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India had released a knowledge paper suggesting that the FSSAI should come up with safety norms for nutraceuticals and dietary supplements.

It said about 60-70 per cent supplements in the nutraceuticals market, which has potential to grow to $12.2 billion in the next five years, are fake and such unregistered and unapproved products should be recalled. India accounts for 1.5 per cent of the global nutraceuticals market.