Yak declared as food animal by FSSAI

DIRANG, 26 Nov: Yak, a multipurpose bovid living in the highlands in the Himalayan region, has been declared as a food animal by the Food Safety & Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).

The development came in response to an application submitted by the National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY) here in West Kameng district in 2021.

“However, before awarding approval, the agency sought inputs from the department of animal husbandry & dairying (DAHD). In response, DAHD recommended that yak may be considered as a food animal under the FSSAI,” the NRCY informed in a release.

Besides yak milk, and yak milk products such as churkum, churpi, ghee, and paneer, yak farmers produce various traditional meat products.

“Yak meat is known to be very lean, and it is better than beef. As per the nutritional analysis, yak meat contains 74.8 percent moisture, 21.7 percent protein, 1.5% crude fat, and 1.2 percent ash. The local yak farmers produce meat products like sun-dried meat, meat pickle, minced meat pickle, khyopeh, salami, etc,” the NRCY said.

It said that commercialisation of these milk and meat products would lead to entrepreneurship development, but for that, it has to enter the conventional meat industry.

“To conserve and propagate this unique germplasm, and to attract the younger generation to continue this age-old farming tradition, yak husbandry needs to be more remunerative. One of the ways to achieve this goal could be through product diversification of yak milk and meat. For that, yak should be included as food producing animal (meat and milk) under the Food Safety & Standards Regulation, 2011,” it said.

NRCY Director Dr Mihir Sarkar said he believes that “the FSSAI’s recognition of yak as food producing animal will help farmers benefit economically, and it will open up several vistas of economic benefits for both farmers and food processors.”