Business Standard

Curd conundrum: FSSAI clarifies on dahi label after protests in South India

FSSAI had notified provisions for omission of the term "curd" from the Standards of Fermented Milk Products through a notification on January 11 this year

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Shine JacobSanjeeb Mukherjee Chennai/ New Delhi

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The food safety regulator on Thursday allowed the use of vernacular words for curd printed on packets, after protests in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over usage of the term dahi threatened to sour business in a region with a long history of resistance to the imposition of Hindi.

An official of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) told Business Standard that its directive to use dahi on packets across the country has been clarified. Food business operators or FBOs (mainly milk cooperatives and curd manufacturers) will now be allowed to use the linguistic equivalents — such as dahi (Hindi), mosaru (Kannada), zaamut daud (Kashmiri), thayir (Tamil) and perugu (Telugu), along with the English “curd”.

A day earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin objected that the printed label spelling dahi was an attempt to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states. “The unabashed insistences of #Hindi Imposition have come to the extent of directing us to label even a curd packet in Hindi, relegating Tamil and Kannada in our own states. Such brazen disregard to our mother tongues will make sure those responsible are banished from the South forever,” he tweeted.

State president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) K Annamalai, too, tweeted demanding a rollback of the FSSAI directive.

Officials of the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation, which markets milk under the Aavin brand, said they would stick to the Tamil word (thayir) for curd in their packaging.

In poll-bound Karnataka, too, there were murmurs of opposition from ruling BJP leaders.

Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy wondered if it was an attempt to “hijack” products of Nandini, the dairy brand of the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF). Knowing that Kannadigas are opposed to Hindi imposition, it is wrong for the FSSAI to order KMF to print Hindi dahi on the packets of Nandini probiotic curd, he said, also alleged that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said at a recent meeting in Mandya district that Nandini would be merged with Amul.

An FSSAI notification on January 11 had provided for omission of the term curd from its standards of fermented milk products.

“As many representations were received recently on omission of the term curd from the Standards of Fermented Milk Products, it has been decided that FBOs may use the term curd along with any other designation (prevalent regional common name) in brackets on the label,” an FSSAI statement said on Thursday.

According to FSSAI, “General Standard for Milk and Milk Products” under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, lays down guidelines for use of dairy term(s) in dairy products (milk, milk product or a composite milk product) and related prohibitions for such use in non-dairy products. “Accordingly, when the term ‘curd’ was written along with ‘dahi’ in the said regulation, it was restricting its use for non-dairy products,” it said.

Among milk and milk-based products, curd is one of the most commonly used variants along with ghee and butter. According to a report by the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group, the curd industry in India was worth Rs 1.18 trillion in 2021 and is expected to touch Rs 2.78 trillion by 2027.
Sour note
  • Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin objected that the printed label spelling dahi was an attempt to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states; state BJP chief K Annamalai also demanded rollback of FSSAI directive
  • In Karnataka, JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy wondered if it was an attempt to “hijack” products of Nandini, the dairy brand of the state milk federation
  • FSSAI on Thursday allowed food business operators (mainly milk cooperatives and curd makers) to use vernacular equivalents of curd

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First Published: Mar 30 2023 | 8:29 PM IST

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