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Friday, Apr 12, 2002

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It's a different `dot' game

P.T. Jyothi Datta

NEW DELHI, April 11

EVEN as you get used to seeing a brown dot on FritoLay's packet of barbecue-chicken flavour chips or Nestle's prawn-cubes — it's time to watch out for another dot. The Government has made it mandatory for vegetarian products too, to sport the dot - - a green one.

In its notification, issued in December 2001, the Health Ministry had made it mandatory for all vegetarian products under the purview of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act to sport the green dot. And the six-month deadline for companies to get their act together comes to an end in mid-June.

An interesting exception is made with respect to packaged, carbonated and mineral water, which will not have to sport the green dot. And this, despite the fact that packaged water had been recently classified as "food'' through an earlier PFA amendment which had made the ISI certification mandatory.

The Bisleri, Hellos, Bailley, Truptis, Aquafina, PureLife and Kinleys will not have to sport any dots, hue notwithstanding.

Another exception from sporting the green dot has also been made for powdered milk — allowing the Nestles of the world to heave a sigh of relief.

On whether the brown dot notification had achieved the desired effect, senior Health Ministry officials told Business Line that the larger corporates were sporting the brown dots on their non-vegetarian products.

Industry-watchers observed that importers were still playing hide and seek with the monitoring authorities, possibly because of ignorance, more than anything else.

Some food industry representatives pointed out that they already had too many details put on their labels, and now the dots. However, the Health Ministry officials pointed out that it was to benefit the consumers and the exercise would not cause a large hole in the companies' pockets.

Meanwhile, on the issue of genetically modified food, the Ministry officials said that the Government was contemplating to make labelling mandatory.

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