FSSAI’s draft policy: Experts indicate blunders in proposed pack labeling regulations

November 23, 2022

Nutritionists and doctors from across the country have yet again called out the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for making “blunders” in the draft proposing revision of Food safety and standards (labelling and display) regulations, 2020.  

Health experts have been crusading against the new policy that has been proposed suggesting a five-star rating for food to indicate their nutrition value. They feel that the policy is only an eyewash and would not caution the user about consuming excess sugar, salt, fat etc and might be masked by the labelling of only those ingredients deemed healthy.

The draft, if not changed substantially, is unlikely to achieve the intended objective and the mandate FSSAI must ensure food safety of Indian consumers, they believe. “Robust scientific evidence indicates that pre-packaged food products (which are usually industrial formulations and marketed) are responsible for increasing the salt/sugar or saturated fat content of one’s diet. Whether these products are manufactured by MNCs or Local companies, increased consumption of such food products is directly associated with obesity, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, cancers and adverse mental health,” a statement from the Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest in association with other health groups read.  

Dr Navdeep Singh Khaira, Senior Consultant, Fortis Hospital Ludhiana, said, “I am terribly disappointed to see that FSSAI continues to rely on the report of IIM on its face value and goes for ‘Stars’ on unhealthy food products. Not only has FSSAI biased the IIM researchers towards HSR, it did not even attempt to analyse the IIM report. It implies a predetermined outcome by the FSSAI that brings up Star Rating to all unhealthy food products.”

A member of a scientific panel of FSSAI, seeking to remain anonymous said, “IIM study outcomes were shared with us in the stakeholders’ meeting, and we were asked to go ahead with HSR. We were never given an opportunity to analyse the IIM report”

“Chips, colas and chocolates are bad for your health. And their consumers, mostly children, need to know this in plain, simple words. That’s what a health warning on the pack can achieve,” said Rujuta Diwekar, celebrity nutritionist.

Dr Arun Gupta, convener, NAPi reiterated, “there is no scientific evidence that adding a positive factor or nutrient like vegetable/ fruit/ nuts etc. to an unhealthy food product would reduce risk of disease. Body metabolism does not function that way. Neither Nuts/fruit/legumes can reduce the absorption of sugar/salt or fat in the unhealthy product nor its negative impact.”

Also read: Public health organisations call for ‘warning’ label on unhealthy packaged foods

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