Are ice-cream manufacturers aware of the food regulatory requirements for ice-cream?
Are ice-cream manufacturers aware of the food regulatory requirements for ice-cream?

Come summer and ice-cream is usually promoted with all kinds of images that titillate the senses and tempt consumers as being a product that they simply cannot miss out. The delectable summer treat comes in the form of bars, sandwiches or scoops and is often topped with flavours, nuts, chocolate chips which make the ice-cream even more irresistible.

However, while ice-cream manufacturers can get creative about ice-cream they also need to keep in mind the food regulations so that their product continues to be enjoyed safely by consumers.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has categorised ice-creams under “Dairy Based Desserts/Confections” and under the category of ice-cream they have ice-cream, kulfi, chocolate ice-cream and softy ice-cream which are all obtained by “freezing a pasteurized mix prepared from milk and /or other products derived from milk with or without the addition of nutritive sweetening agents, fruit and fruit products, eggs and egg products, coffee,cocoa, chocolate, condiments, spices, ginger and nuts and it may also contain bakery products such as cake or cookies as a separate layer and/or coating. “

Ice- creams may be frozen hard or they may be of a soft consistency but one thing they must have is a pleasant taste and smell and must not have any off flavour or odour. Ice- cream can contain permitted additives but the FSSAI says the product must be tested formicrobiological parameters so that it does not contain any organisms such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Listeria, and others that can cause human disease and are associated with farm animals.

Ice- cream is also categorised as Ice- cream, Medium fat ice-cream and Low fat-ice-cream depending on the percentage of total solids, milk fat, milk protein used.Where chocolate, cake or similar food coating, base or layer forms a separate part of the product only the “ice cream” portion will need to conform to the requirements in the table below. FBO’s need to keep in mind that type of ice-cream (whether medium or low fat) shall be clearly indicated on the label otherwise standard for ice-cream shall apply.

Requirement Ice cream Medium fat ice-cream Low Fat ice-cream
(1) 2) (3) (4)
Total Solid Not less than 36.0 percent Not less than 30.0 percent Not less than 26.0 percent
Wt/Vol (gms/l) Not less than 525 Not less than 475 Not less than 475
Milk Fat Not less than 10.0 percent More than 2.5 percent but less than 10.0 percent Not more than 2.5 percent
Milk Protein (Nx6.38) Not less than 3.5 percent Not less than 3.5 percent Not less than 3.0 percent

The FSSAI regulations also have another definition which is similar to ice-cream but is called Frozen Dessert / Frozen Confection. This product is defined as“product obtained by freezing a pasteurised mix prepared with milk fat and / or edible vegetable oils and fat having a melting point of not more than 37.0 degree C in combination and milk protein alone or in combination / or vegetable protein products singly or in combination with the addition of nutritive sweetening agents e.g. sugar, dextrose, fructose, liquid glucose, dried liquid glucose, maltodextrin, high maltose corn syrup, honey, fruit and fruit products, eggs and egg products, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, condiments, spices,ginger, and nuts.”

Similar to the ice-cream, frozen dessert is also categorised as Frozen Dessert/ Frozen Confection, Medium Fat Frozen Dessert/ Confection and Low Fat Frozen Dessert/ Confection. The requirement for milk fat and protein is also the same except that the protein is Nx6.25 whereas for ice-cream it is Nx6.38. Frozen dessert may also contain a separate layer of cake or cookies.

Where is the difference???

Food Businesses Operators are usually busy trying to fulfil the demand for the sugary frozen foods in summer. However, they need to pause to see that they know the differences between ice-cream with frozen dessert so that the consumer does not think both are the same. While both the products contain milk solids, fats and proteins a number of the ingredients are totally different.

  • One of those ingredients allowed in frozen food but not in ice-cream is vegetable oils and fats
  • While you can use any of the emulsifying and stabilising agents permitted in the regulations in frozen desserts all are not permitted in ice-cream{3.1.6 (7)}


Labelling Requirements


  • The FSSAI indicates that it is mandatory for all ice cream dealers to “legibly and conspicuously” display their name and address as well as the name and address of the manufacturer on the stall, vehicle or container as the case may be.
  • FSSAI also clearly states that every package of ice-cream, kulfi and chocolate ice-cream containing starch shall have a declaration on a label as specified in regulation 2.7.1(2).

This article as an attempt to refresh the minds of the FBOs so that they use ingredients and additives as permitted so that the millions of Indians who love ice-cream can be assured that they are consuming a product that is safe to eat. So that consumers make the right choice FBO’s must label the ice-creams correctly because there is a huge difference between ice-cream and frozen dessert especially in the permitted ingredients and that the labelling must be such that the normal consumer is not deceived. For its part the Apex Food Regulator must also bring in more clarity about ice-creams and frozen desserts neither is mistaken for the other.

About the author:

                           Dr. Saurabh Arora is founder of Food Safety Helpline and head of Auriga Research Limited laboratories.

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