Indian food regulator has directed the Restaurants to declare the calorific and nutritive content present in the food products they serve. They have informed them that the consumer needs to know what he is consuming. As of now, some very fine restaurants, for example ones in the five star restaurants have separate menu for low-calorie food and also offer sugar free options on demand. But even they do not declare the details of calories and nutrition. Pavan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer of Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that the declaring the details allows the consumer to be informed of the content of calories and nutrition present in their food. These, he said are already a part of the labelling norms for packaged food. He now urges the big players to come up and voluntarily take up the step.
The Indian food regulator’s step is probably an inspiration from US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), which notified rules in December 2014 for the so called Nutrition Labelling of Standard Menu items in Restaurants and similar Food Establishments. By May 5, this year, some categories of Restaurants will have to comply with these. FSSAI is likely to follow the USFDA standards when it comes to deciding to notify rules, although there is no plan to do this immediately. A spokesperson of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India that has 1,700 members across nine states said that they are working closely with FSSAI and disclosing information on nutrition and calorie intake will not be an issue. National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) president Riyaaz Amlani is not as enthusiastic about the idea. He said that making it voluntary would make sense but making it mandatory may be an issue. Declaration of nutrition information and calorie details he said will be a huge task.
In the coming days, the food service market in India is projected to grow from INR 3.09 trillion in 2016 to INR 4.98 trillion by 2021, expanding at an annual average rate of 10 percent according to a NRAI-Technopack report.