FSSAI releases draft regulations for front-of-the-pack labelling for packaged food industry

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on: Sep 20, 2022
The food regulator has defined baseline reference values for energy, total sugars, saturated fats and sodium per 100 gm and 100 ml that contribute to health risk factors

The food regulator has defined baseline reference values for energy, total sugars, saturated fats and sodium per 100 gm and 100 ml that contribute to health risk factors | Photo Credit: M_Moorthy

Proposes to bring star ratings to give more information to consumers regarding nutritional profile of packaged food products

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Tuesday released draft regulations for the front-of-the-pack nutritional labelling (FOPNL) for packaged food companies, which has been the subject of intense discussions among stakeholders. The draft regulations propose to bring in five star ratings to give consumers more information about the nutritional profile of the packaged food products and make better choices. Once finalised, these ratings will be displayed on the front labels of the packed food products in close proximity to the brand names.

Compliance is voluntary

The draft regulations states, higher number of stars will indicate that the food products are better positioned to provide for the daily nutrient needs of consumers. The regulator has now sought views of stakeholders and added that compliance with the regulations, once notified, will be voluntary in nature for four years.

The draft regulations for the first time defines products that will be considered High Fat Sugar and Salt (HFSS) food products in the country. HFSS food means a processed food product which has high levels of saturated fat or total sugar or sodium.

Baseline values defined

The draft regulation amendments have proposed the mathematical formula on which star ratings will be calculated and also in the manner in which they will need to be displayed on the front labels of the products. The food regulator has defined baseline reference values for energy, total sugars, saturated fats and sodium per 100 gm and 100 ml that contribute to health risk factors. It has also prescribed the minimum percentage of positive nutrients such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, legumes, fibres and protein.

Based on these baseline reference values and positive nutrients percentages, food products will obtain Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) scores which will determine the number of stars a product food will be able to display. For instance, a solid food product with INR scores in the range of 21-24 will be eligible for only one star.

To fight lifestyle diseases

Harsh Gursahani, a Food Lawyer and Partner at PLR Chambers said, “The front of pack nutritional labelling has been introduced in various countries where obesity and other lifestyle diseases pose a significant health risk. The proposed amendment by FSSAI includes a definition of HFSS Food, which should be tailored to Indian context as dietary preferences vary globally. FSSAI’s decision to give a four year voluntary period to the industry is a step in the right direction.”

The regulator has also specified list of products that will remain out of the ambit of the labelling regulations. These include, fresh meat, poultry, eggs , herbs, spices, masalas, honey, natural mineral water, buttermilk, infant formula and single-ingredient products such as table-top salt, white sugar, vinegar and mustard 

The food safety regulator has been in discussions to bring the labelling rule for the past few years. It recently decided to go for five star ratings system to inform consumers regarding the nutritional profile of the product based on the recommendations that emerged after a IIM-Ahmedabad study.

Published on September 20, 2022
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