Making food Sattvik compliant

- December 13, 2023
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

Sattvik Certifications has emerged as the world’s first organisation to certify restaurants as vegetarian and vegan

TRANSPARENT: Abhishek Biswas, the head of Sattvik Certifications, came up with this initiative in response to growing concerns about food safety, quality, and transparency of the food supply chain

Sattvik Certifications is world’s first vegetarian food safety and certification body. The organisation is the standard developer of Sattvik Council of India, which helps vegetarian and vegan communities in making informed choices by ensuring that the products meet specific standards and criteria before being recognised as vegetarian and vegan.

The organisation does the testing, inspection, audits and certification solutions of various industries and their products including FMB, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and textile.

Patriot interviewed Abhishek Biswas, founder of Sattvik Certifications and Secretary General of Sattvik Council of India, to know more about its work and vision.

Q. What does Sattvik certification mean? How did the idea for such a certification come into existence?

A. Sattvik Certifications is a vegetarian and vegan standard developing organisation ensuring food safety and regulatory compliance worldwide. Our initiative is rooted in the vision to establish a dedicated food safety environment, specifically designed for the vegetarian/vegan consumer base in India and global markets. We have developed comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) across all relevant domains to ensure a 100% vegetarian/vegan environment. It derives uniqueness from its profound mission to revolutionise the world food industry by introducing the first-ever such certification. The name “Sattvik” itself holds cultural and philosophical significance, and represents purity, goodness, and a holistic approach to living.

The idea for Sattvik certifications emerged in response to growing concerns about the food safety, quality, and transparency of the food supply chain. Throughout my travels, my friends and I encountered significant challenges in locating satisfying vegetarian meals. Finding assured vegetarian food was a constant struggle, leaving us with limited options, often prompting us to resort to cooking our own food at home. This difficulty wasn’t exclusive to vegetarians but extended to anyone culturally rooted in specific dietary preferences. It became evident that finding vegetarian, vegan, or Jain-assured food outside of India posed a real challenge. Motivated by this, I initiated research to explore how we could address this gap in the current industry. The goal was to create an environment where ordinary vegetarians, vegans, and travellers could enjoy their meals without any hesitation or uncertainty.

Q. What are the parameters for Sattvik certifications and how does it work?

A. In total, we have developed our 10 Sattvik Operation Manuals with 40 codes for the food & lifestyle industry. These manuals serve as guiding documents for operating a Sattvik certified establishment, outlining essential Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), detailing prohibited products across various categories, and providing annexures, among other crucial information. Our certification and audit processes are entirely online, ensuring a systematic approach to rectify each non-conformity. To uphold the integrity of our audits, we exclusively authorise Sattvik lead auditors to conduct these assessments.

Q. How are Sattvik certifications different from restaurants that claim to be vegetarian or vegan? What does the certification help them achieve?

A. Sattvik certifications provide consumers with confidence that a restaurant or product meets specific vegetarian and vegan standards, whether related to dietary choices, sustainability, or other ethical considerations. It sets a restaurant apart from others by highlighting its commitment to specific values or principles related to vegetarian and vegan serving and preparation. Sattvik certifications take the restaurants a level up by aligning the basic criteria related to food safety, hygiene, and segregation in the kitchen.

Q. I have read that countries other than India are also seeking Sattvik certifications. What does the demographics look like? Which countries are seeking the certifications?

A. Sattvik certifications have gained widespread acceptance in Canada, Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and soon the UAE. It is noteworthy that nations like Indonesia and Singapore are increasingly embracing veganism and adopting healthier lifestyles, driven by factors ranging from trends to health concerns. As a reflection of this global shift towards vegetarianism and veganism, consumers now seek assurances about the authenticity of claims on products and services. In this context, Sattvik certifications serve as a dependable standard, ensuring that products bearing their mark meet rigorous criteria. This, in turn, instils confidence in consumers, assuring them of the integrity and adherence to specific standards in their choices.

Q. What is the difference between Halal food and Sattvik certifications? What do you think are the motivations of both, and difference, if any?

A. Halal and Sattvik certifications are distinct in their principles.

Halal signifies food and practices permissible in Islam, guided by dietary laws that dictate what is allowed and what is prohibited. The pursuit of Halal certification is motivated by religious beliefs and adherence to Islamic dietary principles. However, the presence of a Halal logo on a water bottle, for example, might cause confusion for a regular consumer and will leave a doubt in their mind.

On the contrary, Sattvik certifications take a neutral approach, providing labelling clarity for any consumer adhering to vegetarian, vegan, or Jain dietary preferences. For instance, a non-vegetarian consumer currently seeking vegetarian options or someone considering a shift in their dietary habits can easily find products and services aligned with their preferences through Sattvik Certifications mark. This ensures clarity and accessibility for consumers seeking specific dietary choices.

As the world’s first vegetarian/vegan and lifestyle certification body, our focus is on setting and upholding rigorous standards that ensure authenticity, purity, and ethical production of food and lifestyle products.

Q. What is the difference between Jain food and vegetarian food? How does Sattvik work on it?

A. Jain and vegetarian food represent distinct concepts, each characterised by unique principles and dietary restrictions. Vegetarianism involves abstaining from meat, poultry, and fish, with the option of including other animal products like dairy. In contrast, Jain food strictly adheres to guidelines prohibiting the consumption of any animal-derived ingredients, including root vegetables, honey and avoiding foods that may cause harm to living beings during production.

An establishment adopting the Sattvik Jain Code undergoes a comprehensive inspection process, ensuring adherence to Jain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), annexures, and industry standards. For processing plants and manufacturing units, specific criteria dictate that the production process commences at sunrise and concludes at sunset. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a 100% quality assurance mark, assuring consumers that the product aligns not only with their preferences but also with their personal and dietary laws.

Q. Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government banned Halal-certified food in the state. How does Sattvik see it since it is also a form of certification for food? Do you think it threatens Sattvik certifications in Uttar Pradesh in any way?

A. The basic term of Halal signifies a process of slaughtering the animals where it is ensured that the blood is taken out completely from animals used for meat and must be slaughtered by a Muslim using a specific method and other principles.

Here in Sattvik we are only dedicated to vegetarian, vegan, Jain and Buddhist food. We come as a re-assurance. By assuring consumers that the product you are consuming is quality assured throughout its process line where all the SOPs related to vegetarian and vegan are followed during the process or preparation of the product. We are dedicated to redefining the narrative surrounding food and lifestyle products, making Sattvik certifications synonymous with a commitment to purity, goodness, and a conscientious way of living.

Q. What does the future of Sattvik look like? What do you have to say to people who are vegetarian or vegan?

A. A prevailing notion suggests that “vegetarians are the only orphans in this world”. In the realm of food, various items are being marketed without clear regard for their content. When an average consumer ventures outside India, finding a place that offers wholesome vegetarian food, allowing for a peaceful dining experience, becomes a challenge. It’s crucial to acknowledge that not everyone possesses a background in food, and in today’s world, consumers often lack assurance and awareness regarding whether the food aligns with their dietary preferences.

Through Sattvik certifications, Sattvik Council of India is addressing a pressing issue in the food industry – the need for transparency and authenticity in the products we consume. In a world where consumers are increasingly conscious about their health, the ethical treatment of animals, and the environmental impact of their choices, Sattvik certifications fill a crucial gap.