Oil opportunities: India’s FSSAI’s approval for function claims for edible oils good for nutra innovation – industry expert

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has approved a list of nutrient function claims for edible vegetable oils. ©Getty Images
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has approved a list of nutrient function claims for edible vegetable oils. ©Getty Images

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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has approved a list of nutrient function claims for edible vegetable oils – a move which a leading expert believes will create more growth opportunities for the nutra industry.

Nutra and edible oil brands are now able to make claims such as “helps lowering of cholesterol”​ when their products contain certain types of edible oils and are manufactured based on approved standards.

For instance, in the case of products which contain linseed/flax seed oil, they are able to bear the claim “rich in omega-3 poly unsaturated fatty acid (Omega-3 PUFA, Alpha linolenic acid/ALA); ALA is an essential fatty acid that contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels”. 

In total, nutrient function claims are allowed for 13 oils, including soybean oil, coconut oil, groundnut oil, on top of flaxseed oil, said the FSSAI.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Sandeep Gupta, chief founder and director at Expert Nutraceutical Advocacy council (ENAC), said the provision would foster the growth of the nutra industry.

For instance, since flaxseed oil is now recognised as a source of omega-3, this can open up opportunities in the vegan omega-3 market.

“Today, the omega-3 market is dominated by non-vegetarian source, that is the fish oil. Having flaxseed oil, it’s a vegan, vegetarian, excellent source of omega 3, 6, and 9 which is good for cholesterol management.

“The FSSAI has made a strong, good claim for flaxseed oil. In general, it is very difficult to make such claims.

“Such clarity will open up new brands to entry and help existing brands to grow and launch variants of oils with health claims made on the pack,”​ he said.

Previously, products containing these health beneficial edible oils were not allowed to make nutrient function claims, unless they make an application to the FSSAI to make a specific health claim.

In this case, findings from clinical studies are required to be presented and the results are subjected to the regulator’s assessment and approval.

Three important factors

The method of extraction, purification, and ratio of omega 3,6,9, are key in making edible oil products that pass FSSAI’s quality requirements and in turn, allowed to bear the nutrient function claim.

Gupta explained that the FSSAI would assess the products, whether it’s a cooking oil, or used in nutra products via the testing provisions that it has put in place. This will ensure that the products are made according to its standards.

“As long as you are able to determine the concentration [of the omegas], you can make the nutrient function claim,”​ he said.

To meet quality requirements, he said it was key to consider the right method of extraction, purification, and omegas ratios.

With the example of flaxseed oil, he said the extraction via cold-pressed method would preserve the ALA levels.

“In such case, your ALA will be much richer than the normal processes, which means the purity, quality, and source of ALA will be better,” ​he said.

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