Nithya Subramanian

New Delhi, March 2

The taste of ice-creams laced with rum or chocolates filled with champagne may just linger in your mouth long after these have gone off-the-shelves. But, the Health Ministry is hoping to discourage manufacturers from adding alcoholic beverages, tobacco and nicotine in food products.

It has issued a draft notification to amend the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Rules, 1995 that proposes that tobacco, alcohol and nicotine will not be used as an ingredient in some food products.

According to Health Ministry officials, "This is being considered because tobacco is known to be carcinogenic and alcohol is injurious to health. Also, we do not want children to consume such products, especially pan masalas that contain tobacco." These norms would be mainly applicable to packaged food products and the proposals are part of the larger labelling requirements the Government is working on to fall in line with the international Codex standards.

Sources further said that safeguards would have to be taken to ensure that food products do not contain other ingredients that are injurious to health. "Companies will also have to clearly mention allergenics or hypersensitive ingredients on the packs," said sources. Also, juices and syrups which do not contain the prescribed amount of fruit juice, fruit pulp, fruit content would be called `non-fruit products' and if the products contain only fruit flavour, they would not be allowed to call themselves `fruit products'. Neither the word `fruit', nor a picture can be depicted on the label of such products.

In the case of imported food, the country of origin and the country where the food has been processed have to be indicated.

Apart from this, the proposed amendment would require that the quantity of each ingredient in the product be declared and its complete nutritional information per 100 gram or 100 ml be provided on the label.

Officials said that the Health Ministry is currently seeking opinion from the industry and a final notification on this would be issued soon. "The draft when finalised will be implemented by the State Governments," they added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 3, 2006)
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