Mithun Meat Gets FSSAI's Stamp Of Approval; A Healthier Option
Image Credit: Nagaland tours and travel/facebook

There is good news for all non-vegetarians in India. Very soon, they are going to find new meat on their plates that has a distinct flavour, is low in fat, and contains an ample amount of nutrients. All the way from the hills of the Northeast, Mithun is the animal that can now be consumed as food. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently recognised mithun, a semi-domesticated bovine animal, as a food animal. This has been effective since September 1, 2023.

This paves the way for the promotion of its consumption and commercial rearing in the Northeast. Though this animal has traditionally been a part of various food cultures among the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, its promotion was not supported. But now, after the recognition of FSSAI, the consumption of its meat and milk will be promoted. 

"Mithun, as a lesser-known meat source compared to conventional options, brings a novel and distinctive flavour profile to the table of meat lovers in India. Its introduction provides an opportunity for meat enthusiasts to explore new tastes and culinary experiences, enriching their gastronomic journeys," said Girish Patil, director of the Nagaland-based National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM), an agency under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research. 

The director said mithun meat has a distinct flavour, which makes it unique and different from other bovine meats like beef and buffalo. It tends to be leaner and slightly tougher compared to beef. "The animals' natural habitat and lifestyle, which often include more physical activity, contribute to the development of lean muscle", he added.  

Mithun Has Low-Fat Content

Patil said that mithun has a relatively low-fat content, which makes it a healthier option for those seeking lean protein sources. Additionally, it contains essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are commonly found in meat products, contributing to its nutritional value.

An estimate in 2019 revealed that Mithun's population in India is 3.9 lakh, of which Arunachal Pradesh alone has 3.50 lakh. The NRCM first applied for the FSSAI's recognition in 2017. Patil also added that FSSAI's recognition would help in the promotion of mithun meat consumption, which in turn would encourage commercial rearing and offer another source of income in the Northeast.

There was also a celebration over FSSAI's recognition on Friday. NCRM marked the day as the first National Mithun Day (September 1) at its campus at Medziphema in Nagaland. "Mithun meat was given a brand name, Weeshi, in Naga terminology", Patil said. Nagaland’s Minister of Higher Education & Tourism, Temjen Imna Along, Kazheto Kinimi, advisor of animal husbandry and veterinary medicine, and others were also present at the celebration.