By Dr Saurabh Arora*
Eating out in your favorite restaurants or outlets is something that we can’t resist as it has become a common practice to eat out on weekends, occasions or any event to get together with family and friends. The fact is that we all rejoice our relishing meals outside or by ordering food online at our doorsteps. However, an iota of skepticism remains lurking in our minds that the food we are eating with our children and loved ones is safe or not. Does it fulfill the required parameters of the apex body of food safety? Wouldn’t it be convenient and transparent to know what we eat so that we can make informed choices and decisions?
Amid all the speculations, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided that restaurants will now declare the calorific and nutritive value of the food they serve. The notion behind such a move is to make the consumers aware about the calorie intake and nutritional information to assure and ensure safety of consumers and authenticity of the Food Business Operators (FBO’s).
FSSAI has clarified that the ’Display of Information (Menu labeling) in Food Service Establishments will be crucial for Food Business Operators (FBOs) from the beginning of the year 2022.
The food business operator has to mention the exact values of nutritional elements on the labels so that the consumers will be informed about the complete information on the labels.
Benefits of Menu labeling
- Menu labeling will give a choice to make informed decisions about what they eat.
- It helps consumers to choose smaller portions of food to maintain their health and wellbeing.
- The restaurant will gain a competitive advantage over other eateries as menu labeling will confirm them as a healthy place to eat.
FSSAI’s Directions for FBOs
- FSSAI issued directions dated 28.12.2021 under Section 16(5) of the FSS Act to convey all the Food Safety Commissioners and Central Licensing Authorities that samples of the food items listed on the menu cards/boards/booklets by the FBOs shall not be taken up to check/verify the respective declarations of calorific value and nutritional information till 30th June, 2022, in order to grant additional time to the FBOs to adopt the practice of Menu Labeling in a self-compliant manner.
- If the limits do not match with what has been specified on the menu label or not falling in line with the regulatory guidelines then the product will be considered as a misbranded/substandard product and the food business operator is liable to be punished.
- A constant check through regular food testing needs to be done on the nutritional ingredients in reference to the recommended values which are safe for human consumption.
What information must be displayed?
It is important to display the mandatory information on Food Menu Card/Menu Board/Digital Menus/Display Boards/Booklets that will include;
Calorific Value and Serving size
The calorific value or energy (in kcal per serving and serving size) and serving size of the food items needs to be displayed adjacent to its name or price.
It will be necessary to display Information relating to allergens in case the food is made of Cereals containing gluten, crustacean and their products etc
Logo for vegetarian or non-vegetarian
As per FSS (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011 food products prepared from vegetarian sources such as cereals, pulses and legumes, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, a dark green color filled circle inside a square with green outline should appear in front of the name of the dish.
A brown color filled triangle inside a square with brown outline should appear in front of the name of the dish for Non-vegetarian food products.
Accurate Information should be given on the organic status of the product through FSSAI’s organic logo.
How will Menu Labeling be Beneficial for Consumers?
Right to Information
Consumers will have access to the calorie value of their favorite dishes across all of their favorite outlets once this regulation comes into effect. This will empower consumers as well as FBO’s.
Option to Choose Healthy Food
Menu labeling will help consumers to have all the information about the food they eat and it will inspire them to make healthy food choices from the menu card.
Consumer’s Trust will increase
The consumers will certainly feel more empowered and confident while choosing their food items from the menu as it will apprise him/her about the ingredient list, nutritional information, allergen list, and other information about menu items. It will make the restaurant ethical and transparent.
Our Services at Auriga Research
Our laboratories in pan India locations are accredited by NABL and authorized by FSSAI for the testing of food samples. We conduct food testing for all nutritional parameters. We are experienced in nutritional labeling for hotel and restaurant menus. We also provide nutritional analysis of packaged food products such as Dietary supplements, Protein powders, Health drinks, Infant formula, Biscuits and cookies, Menu labeling and many more.
We provide consultation on the labeling requirements to help you ascertain the tests that need to be conducted and nutritional food testing services. Our laboratories are equipped with avant-garde equipment for food testing and nutritional labeling compliance. Our team of experts conducts through label reviews to ensure compliance to the current regulatory requirements. Our FSSAI authorized laboratories in pan India locations provide nutritional fact labeling services.
We can help you in doing the nutritional analysis as per FSSAI Compliance needs. We are well equipped to provide nutritional testing services for detection of the concentration levels of nutrients like fatty acids & cholesterol etc. We have been working with the food & beverages industry on the complete range of food products and are helping them accommodate the specific standards. We offer a complete solution for nutritional component analysis requirements.
To avail our services contact us at;
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
* A prolific inventor, pharmacist, scientist, technophile, and visionary entrepreneur. He has been leading the contract, testing, certification, and research business at Arbro and Auriga since 2005 with labs in seven locations. Invented, patented, and commercialized SNEC 30, a scientifically advanced curcumin supplement; Founder of Food Safety Helpline; Founder and Mentor of Lab-Training.com