New Delhi: After fresh amendments to food safety laws in India, rabbit and hare have officially become the fifth category of meat that can be legally consumed in India. This is pertaining to the changes that occurred in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

Kerala is a state where rabbit meat is considered a delicacy, and after a delegation met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a new category, ‘Leporids’ (rabbits), was introduced.

Presently, in the list which mentions five categories of meat that can be legally consumed, are: ovines (sheep), caprines (goat), sullines (pig) and bovines (buffalo, bison).

“We believe several representations came to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last year. They said livelihoods of at least 10-15,000 families in Kerala alone depend on rabbit farming. It’s considered a delicacy there. Restaurants claim it as a specialty. Their business was also hurt. The PMO referred their case to us and we decided to put ‘Leporids’ or rabbits in the list,” a senior FSSAI officer said.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which concluded that the consumption of rabbit and hare meat was save for humans, authorised the southern delicacy to be included in the list.

However, many are against introduction of rabbits in the list. After the FSSAI slammed the slaughter of rabbits 2014, rabbit farmers protested against the decision.