FSSAI sets standards for basmati rice; to be enforced from August

The move could increase exports of this fragrant rice of India

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Thursday 12 January 2023
FSSAI sets standards for basmati rice; to be enforced from August
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

In a bid to promote the business around basmati rice, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) notified standards for basmati rice January 12, 2023. They will be enforced from August 1, 2023. 

FSSAI hopes that the standards would protect consumer interest and ensure the basmati rice sold in the market has the characteristic fragrance identified with this variety and is free from artificial fragrances and colouring.

The authority has also set standards on parameters such as average size of grains and their elongation ratio after cooking. It has set the maximum limits for moisture, amylose content, uric acid, damaged grains and presence of non-basmati rice. 

The standards are applicable to brown basmati rice, milled basmati rice, parboiled brown basmati rice and milled parboiled basmati rice.

“This will establish fair practices in trade of basmati & protect consumer interest,” Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted about the standards.

Basmati rice is cultivated in the Himalayan foothills of the Indian subcontinent. The specific agro-climatic conditions, processing techniques such as harvesting and ageing are said to make this rice unique. In India, rice grown in specific parts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir can be labelled as basmati.

Basmati rice is just one of the thousands of rice varieties available in India. However, this fragrant rice has invited the most controversy. 

In 2020, India’s application for a geographical indication tag recognised in the European Union market was put on hold after Pakistan opposed the move.

Read more: The ‘qissa’ of Basmati

Before this, in 1997, Texas-based company RiceTec developed American basmati varieties and patented them. These were introduced in the international market as ‘Kasmati’ and ‘Texmati’.

However, the patent was contested in the year 2000 by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India’s premier science and industry organisation, saying the term ‘basmati’ could be used only for rice grown in India and Pakistan. 

On August 14, 2001, the final decision ensured that the US company could no longer use basmati in their name.

Basmati rice is exported out of India and had an annual forex earning of Rs 25,053 crore during 2021-22. India accounts for two-thirds of the global supply of basmati rice, according to FSSAI. 

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