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FSSAI plans labeling of GM foods

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is planning a regime of labelling genetically modified (GM) foods, which do not exist in India as of now.
The move comes after India’s apex regulator for GM foods, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), approved India’s first transgenic food crop GM Mustard for commercial cultivation last month. The environment ministry has to take a final call.
FSSAI, though responsible for testing food standards, is passing the buck on independent testing of the impact of GM foods on human health. Its officials said that the environment ministry should look at it.
“We had a meeting with FSSAI two weeks back and requested it to take over the approvals of processed GM foods. But they asked GEAC to continue appraising proposals for processed foods until they are ready to take over the entire regulation of GM foods and imported processed foods. Meanwhile, they will handle the labelling process,” said Amita Prasad, additional secretary of the Environment Ministry.
Till now only one GM crop — Bt Cotton — is grown in Indian fields. The only other food crop to receive all approvals was Bt Brinjal. However, the government blocked its introduction. There has been widespread political and public opposition to the technology.
As per Section 22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, FSSAI has the responsibility to regulate GM organisms and products once they are approved by GEAC. FSSAI even submitted a status report before the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case against commercial cultivation of GM Mustard, and stressed that no regulation is yet framed to regulate GM foods. DNA has reviewed a copy of the status report.
The development comes after GEAC flagged in April the absence of any regulatory mechanism to deal with the import of processed GM foods.
India is dependent on imports to meet its demand for edible oils, including mustard oil. But there has been opposition from some farmer groups that the GM technology will lead to industrialisation of food production and compromise food security.
While the Environment Ministry had excluded approvals of processed GM foods from its mandate through a 2007 notification, the Union Health Ministry requested it to continue regulating GM processed foods till FSSAI is able to look into the matter in a scientific manner.
As a result, the Environment Ministry began keeping the 2007 notification in abeyance at regular intervals, till it last expired on March 2016.
Speaking to DNA, FSSAI’s chief executive officer, Pawan Kumar Agrawal, said, “Regarding GM foods, we come into the picture when GEAC allows certain crops to be cultivated in India. After clearance, all GM foods would be subject to the same standards that apply to regular food.”
“The only requirement will be to see if it is above a certain threshold of certain GM protein found, then that has to be declared and that is what we are working on…the categories of food for which the labelling requirement will be made mandatory,” he said.
In its status report before the top court, FSSAI dwelt on the complexity of the labelling regime. “Any labelling regime… will have practical implications on trade as it will necessitate implementation of large-scale threshold testing regimes and traceability protocols with back up documentation, which would cause significant escalation of costs.”
Activists said that FSSAI should go beyond simply labelling GM foods. “We are talking about rigorous independent health safety assessment, and FSSAI should not get away from that role and also look at edible oils derived from GM crops,” said Kavita Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, a loose network of more than 400 organisations from 20 states working on farm issues.

FSSAI to launch draft regulations on food labelling, advertising and packaging

Draft regulations on food labelling, advertisements and packaging will be unveiled soon, India’s food safety regulator FSSAI said here on Thursday.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of (FSSAI) will launch the draft regulations in a few weeks, said its CEO Pawan Agarwal.

“There will be three separate sets of regulations for labelling, claims and advertisements and third on packaging (materials used). The draft regulations will soon be released across all food groups,” Agarwal told the media here.

He said constituents, such as salt, will be marked on a per serve basis in case of labelling.

Agarwal said the FSSAI also plans to empanel third party auditors to inspect facilities of the companies manufacturing food products.

Agarwal was speaking on the sidelines of a consultation on improving nutrition of tea garden workers through food fortification.

It involved the officials from West Bengal and Assam governments, Tea Board of India, Tea Association, tea companies and industry.

“We have requested the state governments to draw up a road map for food fortification in tea gardens and we will connect them to suppliers of fortified staples,” he added.

New food packet labels to tell how much dietary requirement is met

Food regulator, FSSAI, is preparing guidelines for elaborate labelling of food packets that must tell a person how much of recommended dietary allowance is met in one serving of that item.
Packaged food labelling is set for an overhaul in India.
All packaged food items will soon have to clearly mention what percentage of your recommended daily nutrients intake is met in a single serving of that particular item.
The country’s food regulator – Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), is coming up with guidelines for elaborate labelling of food packets that must tell a person how much of recommended dietary allowance is met in one serving to make it convenient for people to keep tabs.
“We are in the process of changing labelling regulations,” said Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI.
The initial guidelines are ready and will shortly be sent to the Union ministry of health for approval.
“We have an expert panel working on formulating the guidelines. New labelling methods will help a consumer in knowing the exact percentage of the recommended dietary allowance of say sugar, fat, salt or other micro nutrients that’s met by consuming a serving of that product,” said Agarwal.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) provides a reference range to assess daily nutrient intake in a healthy person that tends to vary by age and gender.
Currently, the food packets broadly mention total calories contained and also the quantity of fat, sugar, salt, carbohydrates and a few other nutrients.
“The label hardly says anything about how much of a healthy person’s daily needs are met after consuming a serving and how much of it is left. The labels are quite convoluted for a common man to understand,” said Agarwal.
The panel that has been working on labelling guidelines is the same panel that worked on formulating country’s food fortification guidelines. The panel is also focusing on defining junk food.
“We broadly term high-fat, high-sugar items as junk that lead to obesity and other complications but this panel is getting into the details and coming up with a standard definition,” said Agarwal.
The food regulator, however, isn’t sure about deadline for implementation of the regulations.
“It will be difficult for us at this level to say when the regulations will be implemented, as the process requires several layers of consultations and approval. We are trying our best to be as fast as possible,” said Agarwal.

FBOs told to comply with 5% trans fatty acids limit; pkg date extended

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in its recent direction, has asked food business operators (FBOs) to comply with maximum limits of trans fatty acids to 5% by weight as prescribed earlier by the regulator while allowing to use existing stocks of the packaging material for next six months upto June 30.

The notification in this regard was published in the month of May last year which was extended upto August, further to February 17. The direction stated, “After due consideration of representations received from the stakeholders, requesting for deferment of implementation of the said regulation for the purpose of utilising the existing stock of their packaging material, the time line for compliance of Notification No. 1 (94) 2015/ Notification P&L/ Enf/ FSSAI dated May 25, 2016, is hereby further extended upto June 30, 2017.”

Meanwhile, the direction with regard to compliance to maximum limits of the trans fatty acids, stated, “Food business operators shall comply with the Notification No. 4/1505/30/2011 dated August 4, 2015, with respect to maximum limit of trans fatty acids as not more than 5% by weight with effect from February 28, 2017.”

Atul Chaturvedi, president, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), said, “The regulator has addressed major concern again with allowing usage of packaging material. Several major brands have filed their representations with the regulator and regulator has always been considering industry views. The last extension which regulator gave came with a charge fee that has to be paid to enable extension which ensured that industry players which are filing representations are really affected with the amendments in the law.”

“The limit of total trans fatty acids is a healthy move which is actually a trend recently. People are moving towards healthy products. Soon will be the time when brands will have a healthy edition of the products like chips and usual snacks. The regulator, on this instance has stated that it wants brands to serve healthier products. I am sure that the food industry will definitely comply with the direction,” he added.

A source from FSSAI said that the established brands which are few in number are filing representations as they are the ones who stock bulk printed packaging material. He also held that the small players will not be able to pay every month the charges for using existing packaging material and small players have small area of operation.

Moreover, the extension will cost the charge or the fee as directed by FSSAI in its last direction regarding use of existing stocks of the packaging material.

 
 

Food label sell-by dates get simplified in US

sell-by dates

© TreeHugger

Currently there are more than 10 different confusing date labels on packages, it’s going down to two.

For more than 40 years it’s been one of the world’s more vexing mysteries: What in heaven’s name does the date on a food label mean? Unfortunately many people think it means the safety of the food has passed, but as things stand now, it can actually mean all kinds of things.

With a parade of phrasing and zero standardization, the more than 10 different date labels currently used end up meaning little since there are so many variables at play. There are no legal definitions describing Sell By, Use By, Expires On, Best Before, Better if Used By, Best By and so on, and manufacturers use different methods to determine the dates – from lab tests to consumer satisfaction. In the end, current food label dates are really pretty random and subjective. And they lead to enormous waste as food-poisoning-shy consumers toss perfectly fine products if the date on the package has passed.

Here’s a quick visual highlighting why it’s all so confusing.

sell-by dates© Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic/Natural Resources Defense Council

Thankfully, this is about to change. In an industry-wide initiative, grocery manufacturers and retailers are coming together to “adopt standard wording on packaging about the quality and safety of products,” according to a statement by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The new initiative is being led by GAM and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) – the two major trade associations for the grocery industry.

“Our product code dating initiative is the latest example of how retailers and manufacturers are stepping up to help consumers and to reduce food waste,” says Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO.

From the chaos of 10, to two, as defined by GMA:

Best If Used By

Describes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume.

Use By

Applies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time; these products should be consumed by the date listed on the package – and disposed of after that date.While the labeling is voluntary, reception by the industry has been positive and standardizing and streamlining the phrasing appears to be a welcome opportunity. Retailers and manufacturers are being asked to start phasing in the clarified terminology as soon as possible with a goal of popular adoption by the summer of next year.

“Clarifying and standardizing date label language is one of the most cost effective ways that we can reduce the 40 percent of food that goes to waste each year in the United States,” says Emily Broad Leib, Director, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic.

Really a welcome change; more money in the pocket and food in the pantry, and all the while, less waste in the landfill? Sold.

Via The Washington Post

Action against misleading advertisements

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints about 100 misleading advertisements related to healthcare, personal care, education, food and beverages and E commerce.
The ads in healthcare category included: Dr. Batra’s Homeopathy Family Clinic, which claimed to have cured over 10 lakh patients in 142 cities for hair fall, skin and other disorders. It also offered cure for sexual problems which was in violation of the Drugs & Magic Remedies Act. Similarly “ Nova Pulse IVF Clinic Private Limited” claimed to have carried out over 10,000 IVF pregnancies. The claim was unsubstantiated. Similarly the catch line of the “Richfeel Health & Beauty Pvt. Ltd”’s ad offered better hair growth just for Re.1with a visual of 1 rupee coin. However the body copy of the ad states the treatment costs as Rs. 60,000/-.
Under personal care category the Hindustan Unilever’s ads “The new Lakme Youth Infinity range keeps the contoured look of youth”, and “Percentages of women who have experienced the sculpting power of Lakme Youth Infinity Day Crème” were found to be unsubstantiated and misleading. “ Marico Ltd”s ad “Parachute Advanced apnaiye aur paiye World’s Best Hair”, was found to be misleading and exaggerated.
In education category “Swadesh Competition Classes, Jodhpur, Rajasthan”’s claim of offering Government job in 3 months was found to be unsubstantiated since there was no data to support the claim. “Orane Institute of Beauty & Wellness” made false claim of having largest network of beauty and wellness Institutes in Delhi-Punjab-Chandigarh-Gujarat-Rajasthan-Haryana-Himachal Pradesh”. It also made a false claim of “100 per cent Job Assistance” through the institute .
Under the Food and Beverages category GlaxoSmithKline’s claim that “Horlicks”, “Helps Manage Healthy Blood Pressure”, was found to be misleading by ambiguity and implication.
In E commerce category, “ Amazon India” ad found to be offering “HTC Desire 620G Dual Sim” for the discounted price of Rs.7375, whereas the actual MRP was Rs.9990. “ Cleartrip”’s advertisement was also found to be misleading. Similarly “Magic Bricks” a property site made false leadership claim. Its website did not quantify the total number of properties displayed or sold.
Also, “Bridgestone India”’s claim that its tyres were eco-friendly was exaggerated. The stunts in normal traffic shown in Bajaj Auto’s ad was in disregard to safety and sought to encourages violation of traffic rules. Similarly Idea Cellular’s ad “ek jaroori suchna! abhi call karen 53111 aur payen 50 Rs ka free recharge”, was false and misleading.Philips Appliances’s ad offering life long free service was also misleading.
In other categories, Indigo Airlines’s offer “With fares starting at just Rs.858, book till 8th November 2016 for travel between 11th January 2017 and 11th April 2017”, was false since no such flight fare exist. Besides, there was no specific information about which route or for which flight this offer was valid.
ASCI’s role has been acclaimed by various Government agencies, including The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Ministry of AYUSH. The Supreme Court of India in its recent judgement also affirmed and recognized the self-regulatory mechanism put in place for advertising content by ASCI.