The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has for the first time laid down standards for an entire range of alcoholic beverages. Every bottle of whisky, brandy, beer, gin, rum, vodka, and the like, including arrack and country spirit and various kinds of wines, has to specify its alcohol content and the additives which may be used in each bottle.
Joint Commissioner of Food Safety K. Anilkumar said this was the first time that such a comprehensive set of standards, including specifications for labeling declarations, ingredients and even the quality of water to be used were being brought out for alcoholic beverages.
The draft regulations have been notified on the website of the FSSAI and the public has been invited to post their objections or suggestions, with scientific evidence in support of the same, within a period of 30 days, ie, by October 4 so that these may be taken up by the FSSAI.
The proposed regulations are in line with the standards drawn up by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), an intergovernmental organisation which defines international standards and regulatory practices for the wine industry and whose recommendations have been approved by member countries including India.
The draft regulations define what each alcoholic beverage is and specifies the amount of ethyl alcohol that each beverage may contain, the additives which may be used, and the production methods which may be adopted for each beverage.
For example, the beverage tequila, “shall be aged in oak barrels”.
The FSSAI has specified the labelling requirements for each alcoholic beverage. The labelling information should specify the alcohol by volume (abv) and the number of standard drinks each bottle/package has. It has defined each standard drink as 10gm or 12.7ml of ethyl alcohol measured at 20 degrees C. Thus, a 750 ml bottle of 36 per cent abv spirit should be labelled as “contains 22 standard drinks”.
The draft regulations say that no alcoholic beverage should contain nutritional information on the label and that an alcoholic beverage which contains more than 8.0 percent abv shall not be represented as a “low alcohol beverage”.
The labelling requirements for wines require manufacturers to mention the origin of the wine, generic name of the grape used, and geographic origin and vintage dates.