With increasing consumer awareness and reports around harmful additives found in food products, food safety has turned out to be a major concern for discerning customers, food business operators and the industry. But are the ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers aware of the regulations and guidelines that they must abide by?
With the onset of summers, ice cream makers usually promote ice creams that lure the senses and tempt consumers. 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, they also need to keep in mind the food regulations so that their product continues to be enjoyed safely by consumers.
In its most basic form, ice cream is a mixture of cream and/or milk, sugar and that is frozen while being churned to create a frozen product. If you take into consideration the technical aspect, then ice cream is a combination of ingredients that also contains thickening and gelling agents so that the product can remain smooth and frozen. It is also a product that is pasteurised like other milk products.
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 for microbiological 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 plain 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. FBO’s need to keep in mind that the type of ice cream (whether medium or low fat) shall be clearly indicated on the label, and the standards for ice cream apply.
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 Celsius 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.
Difference Between Ice Cream & Frozen Dessert
Food business operators are usually busy trying to fulfil the demand for sugary frozen foods in summer. However, they need to see that they know the differences between ice cream and 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 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.
Additives in Ice Cream
Ice creams contain fats and proteins but they also have sweeteners, and stabilisers. Artificial sweeteners permitted for use in ice cream and frozen dessert includes aspartame (methyl ester) at 1000ppm and sucralose at 400ppm. Other sweeteners like the polyols – isomalt, erythritol and maltitol may also be added a maximum level as per GMP. Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose is a chemically modified cellulose polymer, which falls under the category of emulsifying and stabilising agents, and can be used at a maximum level of 1 per cent in ice cream.
Ice cream may contain starch phosphate, a gum arabic substitute, to a maximum extent of 0.5 per cent. Polydextrose may also be used in ice cream and frozen dessert as per GMP levels and proper label declaration as provided in regulation 2.4.5 (47) of FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Reg. 2011 and which says that declaration to be made is that Polydextrose may have laxative effects.
Flavours & Colours
Ice cream flavours have come a long way from the standard vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. Today ice creams come in an array of flavours that blend fruit purees and extracts, cocoa powder, nuts, cookie pieces, and cookie dough into the ice cream mixture. While fruits can add some flavours to ice creams but FSSAI also allows the use of natural, nature identical or artificial flavours and also permitted synthetic food colours in ice creams and frozen desserts and ice cream mix-powder, according to levels which are in compliance with regulations. Flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate is strictly prohibited in ice cream.
• 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 the label as specified in regulation 2.7.1(2).
This article is 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, FBOs 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 labeling 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 so that neither is mistaken for the other.