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Food regulator turns down NADA’s request to frame food supplement standards

5,July, 2017

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) recently approached the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) with a request to frame standards for these supplements because they were deeply worried about the mushrooming variety of off-the-shelf food supplements and possibility that some of them contain banned performance enhancing substances. After several meetings between both the parties, FSSAI declined the request stating that given the nature of expertise and sports medicine knowledge required to do so is beyond their mandate. NADA officials approached FSSAI over concerns that rapidly increasing gyms in urban and rural areas were pushing some of these supplements and there is no control or monitoring over what they contain. Hence, FSSAI should frame standards.

FSSAI agreed in principle regarding the issue expressed by NADA wherein a section of the authority was keen to go ahead with the exercise, but in the end the authority decided not to. A senior official said though the NADA’s concerns were genuine, there were certain issues that was not in favour of NADA. “The concerns they raised were genuine. Food supplements are sold over the counter and often pushed by gym instructors may contain performance enhancing substances banned for athletes or substances that are just generally harmful for people if used indiscriminately. There may even be prescription drugs that ordinarily cannot be bought over the counter but have an anabolic (body-building) effect on the body.”

After numerous discussions and meetings with NADA, FSSAI concluded that they could not frame standards from NADA’s perspectives and yardsticks. It was beyond their mandate. “We deliberated over the matter, had meetings with NADA and decided that we cannot frame standards from the perspective they want us to. It is beyond our mandate — there is a long list of banned substances, some that are not to be used during competitions but can be used otherwise, and others that can never be used. Then there is also the matter of dosage. So we told them that it is beyond our mandate,” the official added.

Last year, FSSAI had notified standards for health supplements, nutraceuticals, and foods for special dietary use, food for special medical purpose, functional food and novel foods. The regulations stipulated by the FSSAI mentions that “the articles of food with standard nutrient or nutritionally complete formulation shall consist of a composition delivering the desired level of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, and other essential nutrients required for respective age group, gender and physiological stage in accordance with the guidelines made by the Indian Council of Medical Research.”

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