Currently, there are no regulatory norms for the approval or monitoring of nutraceuticals, herbals and functional food. However to regulate this segment, Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) had set up a taskforce in May 2013, which submitted its recommendations in April this year.
"Nutraceuticals are gaining popularity but its growth is restrained by lack of a solid regulatory framework which is crucial for medial credibility," Assocham National Council of Healthcare and Hospital and Ex-Chairman Sir Ganga Ram Hospital B K Rao said at an event here. The knowledge paper on this issue -- released by Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain -- noted that the FSSAI should come up with proper guidelines for manufacturing and marketing of neutraceuticals, herbal and functional foods.
Presently, 'the draft regulation for nutraceuticals and foods for dietary supplements' is being vetted by the legal department. The early notification of these norms will help check counterfeit products, it added. Noting that the nutraceuticals and dietary supplements industry has potential to grow to USD 12.2 billion in the next five years, the paper said about 60-70 per cent supplements in
the market are fake and such unregistered and unapproved products should be recalled.
"Small committees should be built at block level to check counterfeit products in the market and immediately discard them," the paper added. Considering very low penetration of nutraceuticals in the country, the paper suggested that the government should provide special incentives and subsidies to emerging companies for the industry growth and create awareness about the health benefits of these products.
The paper also suggested the government to introduce various functional foods and beverages in Midday Meal schemes to address child malnutrition. Nutraceuticals are the products that offer health as well as medicinal benefits, consisting of prevention and treatment of disease.
Nutraceuticals are categorised into functional foods/beverages and dietary supplements. India accounts for 1.5 per cent of the global nutraceuticals market. Heinz, Kellogg's, Nestle, Hormel, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals are key players in this field.