India could soon be munching on rabbit and hare meat after changes to food safety law

| Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 11:55
First Published |
Rabbit, Rabbit Meat, Hare meat, Tamil Nadu, FSSAI, Narendra Modi, Food safety law,

However, many are against introduction of rabbits in the list

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.


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Broiler Rabbit Meat

India does not have indigenous rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and the Hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus) is the nearest related species. There are three types of hare.The black napped hare (Lepus nigricollis ) is found in most parts of the country, major concentration being in South India.The other variety of Indian hare rufous –tailed hare (Lepus nigricollis ruficaudatus).Their distribution ranges from Himalayas to river Godavari. The desert hare (Lepus Niigricollis Dayanus) is found in Western desert zone of India. Rabbits have been imported from other countries and reared under various ago-climatic regions.The various breeds available in India are New Zealand White, Soviet Chinchilla, Grey Giant for meat and fur, and Russian, British and German Angora for hair.

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