FSSAI tightens labelling norms for breads

The Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) is tightening labelling norms for breads at a time when a wide number of varieties with health claims are available on retail shelves . From May next year, bread-makers will need to ensure that a product labelled as whole wheat bread is made of at least 75 per cent whole wheat flour and brown bread comprises at least 50 per cent whole wheat flour.

Similarly, companies and bakeries will need to ensure that the flour used to make multi-grain bread consists of certain minimum amount of grains other than wheat. “The minimum amount of specialty Ingredient (grains other than wheat ) in case of multigrain bread shall be minimum 10 per cent in the first year of enforcement and, thereafter, it shall be 20 per cent,” the official notification added.

Speciality breads

For the first time, the food safety authority has also notified standards for speciality breads. In such products, companies use speciality ingredients as prefix to the term ‘bread’ on the labels. For instance, in the case of oatmeal bread, flour used to make the product must have at least 15 per cent oats content on a 100 gms basis. Similarly, a product labelled as protein-enriched bread must have at least 15 per cent edible protein content in the flour (100 gms basis).

Harsh Gursahani, a food lawyer and partner at PLR Chambers, said: “Various companies and bakeries choose to market their breads using the name of specific ingredients on the labels. The regulations make it mandatory for them to meet the basic thresholds of such ingredients in consumer interest. For example, fruit bread must have minimum 10 per cent candied fruit content, and milk bread must have 6 per cent milk.”

Norms have been notified for garlic bread, honey bread, milk bread, cheese bread, raisin bread, rye bread, and bran bread, among others. These standards are part of the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Second Amendment Regulations, 2022.

Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs, said the regulations will bring in more clarity for the industry as well as consumers. “Companies that were mislabelling their products will need to either modify their labels or their products to be able to adhere to these regulations. This will enable consumers to make better choices,” he added.