FSSAI Orders ‘Red’ Warning For Foods With High Sugar, Fat; Food Companies Revolt Against FSSAI

Code Red for food with high fat, salt and sugar
Code Red for food with high fat, salt and sugar

We’d recently brought to you the changes proposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for the Indian FMCG sector. According to this, the packaged food companies are to label high fat, sugar and salt content levels on the front side of the package with ‘red’ color coding. This would directly help the dietary conscious sets of consumers with a clearer idea of what they are choosing.

This draft has however, not been thoroughly appreciated by the food companies. Nearly 70% of packaged food available in the market today will be coded ‘red’ if this rule is implied. The FSSAI has been attempting to draft something like this since the past two years, finally overlying with success now. Anyway, FSSAI has invited suggestions and objections from stakeholders within 30 days from the publication of the draft regulations.

FSSAI Takes this Step for the Consumers

The FSSAI, in its new draft labeling regulations, wants the packaged food companies to label their nutritional information in front of the pack. This means that calories, saturated fat, trans-fat, added sugar and sodium per serve will have to mentioned right in front of the cover and food items having ‘High Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS)’ shall be marked ‘red.’

The idea behind these new labeling regulations is to enable citizens to understand better about the composition of food products so that they can make informed choices. At present, the manufacturing date and expiry date are placed at two different places over the pack and it becomes difficult for consumer to see both at a glance. Hence, the new regulations also propose that Date Marking including date of manufacturing and date of expiry must be at one place.

FSSAI believes that food labeling serves as a primary link between the manufacturer and consumer and covers both food safety and information of consumer interest.  

Speaking of these labelling regulations, they’re still in draft stage and have been trying to address concerns of companies on the issue. They’ve also kept forth the idea of a new logo for food materials not meant for human consumption. It shall bear a [X] symbol.

What Do FMCG Cos Think of This?

The food companies are unhappy. They  believe that these regulations are neither scientific nor practical enough to be implemented. The salt, sugar and fat content of packaged food depends upon the taste requirements of the consumer and isn’t manufacturers’ choice. Even common food items like milk and fruit juices will fall in the ‘red category’, as levels of fat in milk and sugar in fruit juice are higher than proposed levels.

They suggest that the threshold for each category should be according to the Indian dietary pattern. According to companies, most of the thresholds are set according to global standards, which aren’t necessarily followed in India. They believe that FSSAI should instead focus on awareness generation of consumer about balanced diet and suitability of different foods as per one’s lifestyle.

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