Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Debate over Front of Pack Labelling (FoPL) of Packaged Food

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Health Star Rating System, FOPL

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is expected to issue a draft regulation for labels on front of food packets.

What is FoPL?

  • In India, packaged food has had back-of-package (BOP) nutrient information in detail but no FoPL.
  • Counter to this, FoPL can nudge people towards healthy consumption of packaged food.
  • It can also influence purchasing habits.
  • The study endorsed the HSR format, which speaks about the proportions of salt, sugar, and fat in food that is most suited for consumers.
  • Countries such as the UK, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Hungary, and Australia have implemented FoPL systems.

What warranted such rating in India?

  • Visual bluff: A lot of Indian consumers do not read the information available at the back of the packaged food item.
  • Burden of NCDs: Also, India has a huge burden of non-communicable diseases that contributes to around 5.87 million (60%) of all deaths in a year.
  • Healthy dietary choices: HSR will encourage people to make healthy choices and could bring a transformational change in the society.
  • Supreme Court order: A PIL seeking direction to the government to frame guidelines on HSR and impact assessment for food items and beverages was filed in the Supreme Court in June 2021.

Which category of food item will have HSR?

  • All packaged food items or processed food will have the HSR label.
  • These will include chips, biscuits, namkeen, sweets and chocolates, meat nuggets, and cookies.
  • However, milk and its products such as chenna and ghee are EXEMPTED as per the FSSAI draft notified in 2019.

Will there be pushback from food industry?

  • Negative warning: Some experts opposed the use of the HSR model in India, suggesting that consumers might tend to take this as an affirmation of the health benefits rather than as a negative warning of ill effects.
  • Lack of awareness: This is significant because there is lack of awareness on star ratings related to consumer products in India.
  • Impact on Sale: Certain organisations fear it might affect the sale of certain food products.

When will the rating come into force?

  • FSSAI’s scientific panel recommends voluntary implementation of HSR format from 2023 and a transition period of four years for making it mandatory.
  • It noted that the proposed thresholds are in alignment with the models implemented in other countries and ‘WHO population nutrient intake goals recommendations’.
  • FSSAI will analyse the nutritional information in 100 mg of packaged food.
  • The food safety compliance system licensing application portal will have a module for generating certificates wherein a licensee can enter details of a product.

 

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