Amul has criticized companies selling almond, soybean milk, rice beverages and oats in disguise of milk and could even drag them to court to prevent this practice.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had issued a draft notification in August, proposing to prevent the utilization of the word ‘milk’ for such products.
RS Sodhi, managing director of Amul said that many foreign and Indian companies are selling plant-based beverages as milk in the country. This, he believes, is a violation of existing regulations. He said, “Ten crore dairy farmers for whom milk is an instrument of socio-economic development are getting to fight this misinformation campaign done by some companies and NGOs where they are selling chemically fortified beverages manufactured in factories and calling it milk. There are no clinical trials or scientific studies to prove that they are better than milk.”
“We have requested the FSSAI to instruct these product manufacturers and importers to remove the word ‘milk’ from the labelling and also refrain from using this dairy term in any communication, because it is in violation of the prevailing regulations,” Sodhi said.
FSSAI CEO, Arun Singhal said, “FSSAI is deliberating the issues with industry representatives and analyzing the comments they have received.” He said they’ll take a month or two to reach a decision after a scientific panel’s recommendations are put to the authority and sent to the health ministry.
Foreign funding of more than Rs 1,500 crore is expected in India for the plant-based beverages sector, according to the industry.
Dairy is the largest agricultural product of India, contributing 2 per cent to the gross domestic product valued at Rs 8 lakh crore, said, Sodhi. “The emergence of vegan and plant-based milk substitutes is a chance for global companies to take advantage of the Indian dairy industry,” he said.