Table of Content
FSSAI Sports Nutrition Guidelines Looks to Curb Doping in Sports
The anti-doping guidelines for sports have been released by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to ensure that over-the-counter sports supplements in India are free from illegal performance-enhancing substances. All the retailers and manufacturers in India should comply with these guidelines to prevent the incorporation of any performance-enhancing illicit substance in the sports supplements sold in the country. The detailed guidelines released by FSSAI have various requirements for manufacturers and retailers. The requirements stated in the guidelines are:
It is now compulsory for every company involved in the Sports supplement business to conform to the methods of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). These methods are updated every year. The primary objective of the FSSAI guidelines is to make available information on the appropriate use of the sports supplements and for labelling and claims on these products.
The guidance document not only discusses and provides knowledge regarding the rules and regulations that the food business operators ([FBOs] manufacturers, importers, marketers, distributors and retailers) must comply with but also gives detailed information to the sports fraternity and general public.
The standard requirements for various food products like food for medical purpose and special dietary use, health supplements, and novel foods have been specified in the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2016. The subcategory under food for special dietary use includes health supplements for sports persons considering the special needs and requirements of their body.
The following drugs have been prohibited as per the guidance document:
- Discontinued drugs
- Drugs under pre-clinical or clinical development
- Substances approved solely for veterinary use
- Substances not approved by any governmental regulatory health authority for human therapeutic use
- Substances such as glucocorticoids, beta-blockers, metabolic and hormone modulators, peptide hormones, growth factors and anabolic agents like androgenic steroids
- Most diuretics
- All cannabinoids (except cannabidiol)
FSSAI has also listed Therapeutic Use Exemptions (referred as TUEs) in the guidelines, whereby, if the supplement contains a prohibited substance, its consumption, supplementation or administration may not be considered a violation of anti-doping regulations if the supplement is in accordance with WADA’s TUE provisions.
In addition to obtaining license or registration from FSSAI, manufacturers, retailers and all the FBOs of sports supplements are now required to comply with the special labelling guidelines and rules thereunder. All the products for sports nutrition must have a declaration “intended for sportspersons” prominently mentioned on them. They shall be labelled with the statement that indicates that there are no prohibited and illegal substances in it as per WADA. A disclaimer mentioning that the products are not recommended for infants and children shall also be put on the label. FSSAI has stated that the audit of manufacturing facilities for such products will also be done periodically. The retailers of sports supplements are required to maintain the requisite license on hand along with the data for traceability of supply chain via retail invoices. They must also have “readily available records of the products/inventory for inventory audit sold through retail outlets” and ensure proper storage conditions for all products. As per the latest guidelines, the activities of online retailers are to be closely monitored. Online retailers must provide an online invoice that has the following details mentioned in it:
- The expiry date of their products
- Supply chain information
To raise consumer awareness, FSSAI has also released guidelines stating that consumers must be mindful of the difference between sports and health supplements. Consumers must read the label claims and keep themselves aware of the prohibited substances as per WADA. In addition to this, the following should be ensured by the consumers:
- Choose/Select supplements as per their requirements or recommendation by sports nutritionists, health professionals or coaches.
- Confirm the dosage required as per their daily activity, gender and age.
- Check Expiry Date/Best Before Date before buying online and offline.
- Look for tamper-proof/tamper evident packing.
- Use authentication system provided by the manufacturer.
- In case of grievances/query, the customer should contact the manufacturer as per the given customer grievance details.
It is recommended for all FBOs and stakeholders in sports nutrition to start following these guidelines, as any who flouts WADA’s anti-doping rules will be prosecuted under the food safety law.
- Guidance document on the use of supplements for sports persons [Internet] [Updated Mar 16, 2018]. Available at: https://www.fssai.gov.in/dam/jcr:0ce35f9c-b3fa-48d1-82da-56b55de76386/Draft_Notice_Comments_Guidance_Doc_Supplements_Sportspersons_16_03_2018.pdf. Accessed on Dec 10, 2018