FSSAI mulls setting threshold levels for fat, sugar and salt in food items

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on August 23, 2019

FSSAI proposes red colour coded front-of-the-pack labels if salt, sugar and saturated fat content is beyond a certain threshold level in a product   -  Reuters

But industry feels these levels should be based on prevailing consumption patterns

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is in the process of finalising new labelling regulations, may look at setting threshold levels for High Fat Sugar and Salt (HFSS) products based on Indian consumption patterns. This will be done after conducting a study to examine the average levels of salt, sugar and fat in various products currently being consumed in the country.

In the draft labelling norms, it proposes red colour coded front-of-the-pack labels if the salt, sugar and saturated fat content is beyond a certain threshold level in a product. However, the packaged food industry players said that these threshold levels are impractical and have urged the regulator to set threshold patterns based on Indian consumption patterns rather than set ‘artificial’ threshold levels based on international market consumption patterns.

Labelling norms

Replying to a query on progress made on the proposed labelling norms, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said, “The industry has expressed concerns about threshold levels and have requested us to calibrate the threshold levels based on Indian consumption patterns. We are examining these suggestions. We may look at getting a study done to identify the average levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat content in various product categories before calibrating the final threshold levels in the new labelling norms.”

He added, “There are also suggestions that targets should be set to reduce salt, sugar and fat content levels in products so that the threshold levels can be met in a phased manner. We are examining this proposal also.”

Agarwal was speaking on the sidelines of an event to mark the inauguration of the upgraded National Food Laboratory in the Ghaziabad region. This is one of the two premier referral laboratories that is under the direct administrative control of the FSSAI.

He added, “This is the first state-of-the-art food laboratory of FSSAI in the Delhi-NCR region. We expect to overall have four such state-of-the-art labs. We are already upgrading our existing Kolkata lab. We will also set-up National Food Laboratories in Mumbai and Chennai.”

Food testing infrastructure

Agarwal said FSSAI has already supported about 45 state-level food testing labs to upgrade their facilities. Under the food safety on wheels programmes, it has 44 mobile food testing labs (vans) for testing, awareness and training which will be expanded to 500 mobile units in the coming years.

Published on August 23, 2019

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