Are your cosmetics vegetarian? Disclosure to soon be mandatory

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Are your cosmetics vegetarian? Disclosure to soon be mandatory
The Indian government is set to make it obligatory for cosmetics manufacturers to specify whether products contain animal-origin products or are in fact, vegetarian.

Awareness relating to cosmetics free from ingredients containing animal-origins, known as vegetarian cosmetics, is high on the Indian government’s agenda.

The new rules

In order to make this a prerequisite of cosmetics manufacturing, the Indian government is set to amend its Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945. It will state that cosmetics and toiletries packaging including shampoos, toothpastes and soaps should feature a red/brown dot for non-vegetarian origin and a green dot for vegetarian.

The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), India’s drug advisory body, cleared the proposal for the amendment to the Rules, reported Indian financial newspaper Livemint​.

The Department of Consumer Affairs has welcomed and supported the decision. It has also been reported in a recent representation to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that the declaration should be made mandatory.

Vegetarian cosmetics

DTAB suggested “amendments to rules with respect to the indication of red/brown or green dot on every package of soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and other cosmetics and toiletries for non-vegetarian or vegetarian origin”,​ the report stated.  

This comes at a time when consumers are aware that packaged food products sold in India must meet labelling requirements. These state whether a product source is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. A green symbol indicates vegetarian food, while a red dot signifies a non-vegetarian food item.

Replicating the food industry, cosmetics and toiletries including face wash, soaps, shampoos and toothpastes are set to also display a brown/red or green dot showing whether the source of the product is vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Previous amendments

A notification relating to this update is expected to be issued in six months.

This is not the first time that the Indian government has initiated a similar proposal.

In June 2014, the consumer affairs department amended the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules. A notification was released making it compulsory for every package containing soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other cosmetics and toiletries to display a panel containing a red or a brown dot for products of non-vegetarian origin and a green dot for products of vegetarian origin.

The association of Indian soaps and toiletries makers, the Indian Beauty and Hygiene Association (IBHA), challenged the notification in the Bombay High Court, arguing that this rule was against natural justice principles, along with the idea that the issue falls under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, rather than the metrology department.

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