India's supplements market poised to blossom

India's parliament has passed a bill that is set to boost the quality of Indian functional foods and supplements, increase export opportunities and open the Indian market to the international community.

The Food Safety and Standards Bill will create a new category for food supplements, functional foods and foods for special dietary purposes, similar in effect to Japan's FOSHU legislation. Previously, these kinds of foods and supplements existed in a liminal regulatory zone between pharmaceuticals and foods.

Dr Bhushan Karnik, president of the Indian division of GCI Nutrients, gave input into the writing of the bill and said it would have a similarly liberating impact on the Indian dietary supplement industry as the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) has had for the US dietary supplement industry. "The Indian bill will open up tremendous opportunities for dietary supplement companies throughout the world that want to sell to the Indian market," he said.

While the Indian market is already open to importers, the bill will make it easier for foreign companies to establish partnerships and other trade links with Indian companies and increase the sweep of products available to Indian consumers, the Indian Health Foods and Dietary Supplements Association observed.

The bill maps and identifies deficiencies in standards monitoring, and lays out regulations for different food and food-related products. It will define and regulate health/nutritional claims and manufacturers will be encouraged to do product R&D/new product development, develop reliable testing protocols, carry out various kinds of clinical studies and establish structure-function claims based on these studies.

It now only requires presidential approval to come into effect.

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