In a bid to encourage consumers to make healthier food choices, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed to make it mandatory to display red colour-coding on front-of-the-pack labels on packaged food products that have high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt content levels.
It has also proposed that a company must make a declaration on the label in case its food product has 5 percent or more of ingredients which are genetically engineered or genetically modified.
According to the proposed draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018, the packaged food companies will need to declare nutritional information such as calories (energy), total fat, trans-fat, total sugar and salt per serving on the front of the pack. The food labels will also declare, per serve percentage contribution to RDA (recommended dietary allowance) on the front of the pack.
However, it recommended that in the case of High Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS) packaged food products, the percentages of dietary energy values will be highlighted in red colour on the labels. Many countries in Europe, for instance, have begun using color-coded labels to make consumers better-informed about the nutritional values in food products.
In the draft regulations, FSSAI said, “The block(s) of nutrient(s) for “High Fat, Suga, and Salt” (HFSS) food shall be coloured ‘RED’….. in case the value of energy Total 15 (kcal) from total sugar is more than 10 per cent of the total energy (kcal) provided by the 100 g/100 ml of the product; the value of energy (kcal) from trans-fat is more than 1 per cent of the total energy (kcal) provided by the 100 g/100 ml of the product; and total fat or sodium content provided by the 100 g/100 ml of the product is more than the threshold values.”
“Food Authority may introduce colour coding system in addition to marking of foods as ‘Red’ within the specified thresholds from time to time,” FSSAI said in its draft regulation. It has also proposed prohibiting advertising of HFSS food products to children in any form.
The comprehensive draft labelling regulations also proposed for the first time a declaration for Genetically Modified ingredients on the labels. “All food products having total Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients of 5 per cent or more shall be labelled,” the FSSAI draft regulation stated.
The draft regulation also intends to prohibit exaggerated health-benefit claims on products such as packaged drinking or mineral water products and edible refined oils. The FSSAI has sought comments from various stakeholders on the draft.