FSSAI finds food items, dietary supplements unsafe, substandard

The regulator’s survey found that 4,890 out of 144,345 samples collected during 2021-22 were unsafe

Nearly 15% of food items including protein powders, dietary supplements used by athletes and bodybuilders sold in India were found to be unsafe for consumption or substandard, a survey by Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has found.

The regulator’s survey found that 4,890 out of 144,345 samples collected during 2021-22 were unsafe for consumption, and 16,582 were substandard, an official aware of the matter said, requesting anonymity. In addition, more than 11,482 samples had labelling defects and misleading information, the person said.

In light of the results, FSSAI launched 4,946 criminal cases and many other civil cases. Doctors warn that consuming unsafe protein powders, commonly used by young people to build muscle mass, can harm kidneys, liver and heart and cause other health issues. FSSAI has notified specific rules to regulate the production and sale of protein powders and other dietary supplements in India.

The food regulator regularly monitors food business operators, including protein powder manufacturers, by conducting drives across states.

In addition to launching criminal cases, the authority has also initiated civil cases in 28,906 instances, resulting in the punishment of 19,437 offenders and the imposition of a penalty of ₹53.39 crore.

Health experts said that dietary supplements have seen increased demand in recent decades globally, including in India. Many young people, especially athletes, use these products to build muscle. However, many of these so-called dietary supplements can be harmful to the body.

“We do see young boys coming to us with kidney-related problems who wish to have a masculine body. Boys are between 20-30 years of age mostly. When we ask about their lifestyle pattern, they inform us that tell us that they go to the gym and consume protein powder after being recommended by their gym trainer.

However, there is no direct link, but lifestyle pattern indicates a common thing in the consumption of protein supplements. We do ask such patients to stop the intake of these protein powders immediately,” said Dr H. Jauhari, chairman of the kidney transplant department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

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