Food labelling standards Current Affairs - 2020

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FSSAI delinks front of packet labelling from general labelling

On December 18, 2019, the FSSAI (Food Safety Standards Association of India) announced that the front of packet labeling will be delinked from its general labeling regulation. The move is being implemented in order to make the consumers aware of food products that are high in fat, salt and sugar content.

Highlights

The authority has decided that the front of the pack and the general labeling regulations must be de-linked. The authority will soon provide threshold limit of sugar, salt and fat in food products. The Front of Packet Labeling helps to identify the green (vegetarian foods ) and red (non-vegetarian foods). It also includes pictorial representation of nutrients, food group nutrients and summary indicators, etc. This can at times be misleading as consumers fail to give a detailed read about the product.

Front of Pack Labelling

FoPL is a policy tool that help consumers to make healthier food choices. It was included for the first time in draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display Regulations), 2019. It aims at creating awareness to consumers about products that are high in sugar, fat and salt content. There are two aspects of FoPL namely threshold limit and the way the limit is depicted on packets of processed food.

Why the delinking?

Delinking is breaking the connection or cutting off. On December 17, the Centre for Science and Environment released a report based on its study on packaged food. The Centre tested 33 foods, 19 fast foods, four different types of wrapped sandwiches, fried chicken, pizza, etc. The results showed high content of salt and fat in the food items. The thresholds that the companies follow were not up to Indian Standards. Therefore, FSSAI has delinked the FoPL standards from labelling regulations and will set new threshold.

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FSSAI constitutes B Sesikeran committee to review food labelling standards

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has constituted three-member committee to look into draft food labelling and display regulations-Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations 2018. The committee will be headed by B Sesikeran, former director of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)and comprises of current NIN director Hemalatha and AIIMS’ endocrinologist Nikhil Tandon.

Key Facts

FSSAI had released draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations 2018 in April 2018. It had proposed mandatory red-label marking on such packaged food products which are high in fat, sugar and salt contents. The front-of-the-pack red label mark was aimed to make consumers more aware about healthy and unhealthy food products. But, Union Health Ministry had put on hold on the draft regulations, after industry stakeholders had expressed concerns, citing that it may have an adverse impact on evolving packaged food industry. So address their concerns, FSSAI has decided to set up committee of experts with health and nutrition background to look into t draft regulations.

Significance

India can learn from best practices from the other countries such as Denmark, Norway and Singapore on labelling and trans-fat regulations. Consultation process started by FSSAI is seen as an attempt to begin dialogue among stakeholders on proposed draft labelling regulations. Moreover, recently, several companies had pledged to FSSAI’s Eat Right Movement and have made voluntary commitments to reduce salt, sugar and fat in their products. FSSAI in future is likely to push more and more companies to make similar voluntary commitments.

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