India: States chalking out plans to implement Alcoholic Beverages Regulations
April 10, 2019
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi – The food safety commissioners and the excise commissioners in the states are currently holding meetings to chalk out plans for the effective implementation of the Alcoholic Beverages Regulations, 2018, which came into force on April 1, 2019.
Recently the two departments convened a meeting here in which the collaborative plan was discussed, and it was decided that businesses should not be subjected to overburden of compliance.
FSSAI chief executive officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal said that the challenge was to see whether the two departments will collaborate and not put extra burden of compliance on businesses.
“For this, a meeting of food safety commissioners and excise commissioners was held recently, and we found that it would not be difficult for the two departments to collaborate. In most cases we are working together,” he said, adding that the two departments will figure out in due course of time on how the collaboration needed to be taken forward.
Agarwal stated that for the alcoholic beverage sector, the implementation of the standards was a very significant way forward in improvement of the quality and standards of the alcoholic beverages available in the country.
“Thus far, it was being primarily regulated by the excise department, wherein they were looking into the alcoholic content and toxic substances in the alcohols,” he added.
Now there are far more elaborate standards that have benchmarked the global standards, and in certain cases, we have taken the Indian context more into consideration. So once these standards come into force, along with food safety commissioners, the excise commissioners and their field staff can also regulator these standards,” said Agarwal.
FAQs on Alcoholic Beverages Regulations
Meanwhile, the country’s apex food regulator has said that the upper limit of alcohol in regular beer has been fixed upto five per cent, while the limit for strong beer was fixed above five per cent upto eight per cent, and this may be mentioned on the labels instead of exact percentage of the alcohol.
This clarification was released by FSSAI, along with FAQs (frequently-asked questions) on the Alcoholic Beverage Regulations, 2018, which has come into force by April 1, 2019. However, six months’ transition time has been given to the businesses and the enforcement shall begin from October this year.
On Geographical Indication (GI), FSSAI has clarified that all such products covered under the GI tag, should conform to all the safety requirement like limits of heavy metals, and microbiological requirements as specified in the regulations.
The FAQs clarified that the sugar content in the alcohol can be specified under Clause 5.9.1, and is defined as weight divided by volume (w/v).
“The tolerance limit of ethyl alcohol has been given ±0.3 per cent, which means that the maximum permissible variation is calculated by adding or subtracting 0.3 in the nominal value of ethyl alcohol of the declared strength,” stated the FAQs released by FSSAI.
Also, FSSAI has reiterated by that the existing stock can be sold in the market till March 31, 2020.
On the question whether more than 30ml of water can be added per kg of grape or fruit wines, the regulator stated that water added in preparation of wine is in the process of revision from the existing limit of not more than 30ml to 70ml per kg of grape or fruit, and the same will be notified in due process. Meanwhile, the FBOs (food business operators) have been instructed to comply with the limit under revision.