Tougher controls on health claims made by Indian food companies on product labels are expected to come into force within the next six months.

Dr B Sesikeran, chairman of the labelling and claims/advertisement panel at the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, confirmed the move to just-food.

“We have finished the draft and the next meeting of the panel will take place this month. Once that is done the draft will be put up on the web for public comments; a process that would take another few months,” Sesikeran said.

Under the plan, for a product to carry a health claim, Sesikeran said it must be based on research from respected international peer review journals or in-house company scientific data, which the panel (wholly staffed by scientists) can verify.

A senior official at India’s Ministry of Food Processing Industries confirmed the pending regulations to just-food, adding that the change would not require any approval from the parliament, as the government had sufficient existing powers to impose the regulation without new legislation.

The forthcoming regulations do not seem to worry India’s food industry however: “There is no confrontation, let it come; we are not opposing it,” said Dharamvir Malhan, executive secretary at the All India Food Processors’ Association, adding that the Indian food industry is “very responsible”. He noted: “If we have claimed something we can certainly prove it.”