Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

Mains level : Food safety and over-nutrition issues

An array of packaged snacks and fast foods breach safe limits of salt and fat content, says a laboratory analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment.

The agency tested salt, fat, trans-fat and carbohydrates in  popular “junk foods”, which consisting of chips, salted snacks, instant noodles and instant soup, and burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizzas, sandwiches and wraps.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

  • To calculate how unsafe the foods tested were, the organisation relied on the concept of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) — a daily ceiling on the amount of salt, fat, carbohydrates and transfats.
  • The RDA is based on scientific consensus and has been agreed upon by expert bodies such as the World Health Organisation, and the National Institute of Nutrition in India.
  • It says that, ideally, no more than 5 gm of salt, 60 gm of fat, 300 gm carbohydrate and 2.2 gm of transfat should be consumed by an adult every day.
  • Further, the RDA from each breakfast, lunch and dinner should be no more than 25%, and that from snacks no more than 10%.

Need to declare nutritional information

  • According to the proposed draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, packaged food companies need to declare nutritional information such as calories (energy), saturated fat, trans-fat, added sugar and sodium per serve on the front of the pack.
  • The food labels are also required to declare, per serve percentage contribution to RDA on the front of the pack.
  • Though under discussions since 2015 and several drafts — the latest one came out in in July — these rules have yet to become law, and to be operationalised.

Displaying ‘Red Octagon’

  • The CSE concluded that all of the popular snacks and fast foods ought to be displaying a ‘Red Octagon’, a warning symbol employed in packaged foods in Chile and Peru.
  • The Red Octagon, which should be printed on the front of the pack, has a number and the name of the food component within that indicates how widely off the RDA a particular ingredient is.
  • Say, a Red “3.1, Salt” on a pack indicates that the salt it contains is 3.1 times the RDA for snacks.
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