Foods regulator to mandate draft safety standards, maximum limits in alcoholic beverages

New Delhi

Alcohol content in your favourite bottle of beer, wine and spirit is all set to go under scrutiny in the country, reports PTI

. For the first time, Indias food regulator FSSAI has finalised draft standards for all categories of alcoholic beverages like wine, beer, whisky, rum, gin and vodka to set the maximum permissible limits of alcohol in these drinks and thus, mandate safety standards.

The draft standards will come up for final discussions at the forthcoming meeting of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the apex food regulator, which plans to notify these by July 1. So far, there was no benchmarking in place for prescribing safe and permissible limits of alcohol in drinks. The new standards will apply to practically all branded alcoholic beverages that are permitted for sale in India as per the current licencing regulations.

Sources in the FSSAI said the new draft food standards finalised for alcoholic drinks would prescribe standards for the content of alcohol, grains and water in drinks. ” These standards have already been approved by the FSSAI scientific committee and are expected to be taken up at the Authoritys forthcoming meeting before their final approval.

After approvals, these will be put in the public domain and objections will be invited,” FSSAI officers said.

The move has a potential to impact sales of the alcohol industry, a major revenue earner for states, with the total annual sales pegged at over USD 10 billion in the country.

The industry is stiffly resisting any move from the food regulator to set standards on alcohol content in branded drinks. The current levels in India allow a maximum of 45.5 per cent alcohol content in distilled spirits such as whisky, rum, gin or vodka, 12 per cent for wine and 8 per cent for beer.

While the FSSAI says setting of standards for food products is part of its mandate by law, alcoholic beverage manufacturers say the Authority has no such power and the state governments alone had the legislative competence to govern the manufacture and sale of these products.

Citing the existing state laws governing the manufacture and sale of liquor under the Excise Act, the manufacturers of alcoholic drinks under the banner of Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies have moved the Bombay High Court challenging FSSAIs move to set alcohol content standards.

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