FSSAI expedites work on new packaging, labeling claims and advertising norms

The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has expedited its work on the new packaging, labelling and claims and advertisement regulations, and is expected to release the drafts a couple of months from now. There would be separate regulations for the three subjects.

Recently, the country’s apex food regulator held a meeting, at which the provisions for the said three regulations were discussed.

Divided into 3 parts
Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said, “FSSAI is reviving the existing Food Safety Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, and decided that the same would be divided into three parts, namely regulations pertaining to packaging, labelling and advertisement and claims.”

He added, “All the three areas are vital. Earlier, there was a single regulation for all three subjects, and we were using the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for the packaging subject.”

“A lot needs to be done in this regard. We held talks with the stakeholders of various sectors, including the packaging industry, food industry and others, and received their inputs. We will compile them to make a draft for the stakeholders’ consultation soon,” Agarwal said.

He added, “Earlier, there was a joint mechanism for packaging and labelling aspects, and virtually no regulations for claims and advertisement. Since all three aspects are important, there will be separate regulations for these subjects. On labelling, the work has been completed. But on the packaging front, regulations are weak, and consultations are underway.”

According to FSSAI, the new norms would be finalised on the basis of recommendations from the expert group and stakeholders.

The proposed packaging regulations will cover most of the packaging materials that come in contact with food. Thee include aluminium foil, laminates, aluminium sheets used for cans, plastics, glass, paper, tin, etc.

It also addressed the principal material, printing and pigments and colorants that may come in contact with foodstuff directly or indirectly.

“The regulations included a suggestive list of packaging materials for different categories,” said an official privy to the development.

The old standards only give preference to the packing and labelling norms. Those were Indian standards, in which there were specific requirements for certain commodities like milk, fruits, vegetable products, edible oil, etc.

Meanwhile, these new regulations will take a while to come out, as there is a process involved in its finalisation. They will go through scientific panels, the expert group and consultations with the stakeholders, including the industry, and legal vetting.


Packaged foods float salt norms

Labelling of GM foods likely to be mandatory

The recommendation was made to the ministry by a scientific panel on GM organisms in food that was formed as per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act
The Department of Health and Family Welfare is moving towards a regime to make the labelling of GM foods mandatory and declaring the threshold level of the genetically engineered ingredient on GM products, its Secretary informed the parliamentary panel on climate, forest, science and technology. The recommendation was made to the ministry by a scientific panel on GM organisms in food that was formed as per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act.
The panel also informed that the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is collecting evidence on the impact of GM food on humans and that ICMR is soon going to provide leads to the Health ministry. DNA was the first to report in June that, in the absence of any regulatory mechanism, FSSAI was working on a labelling regime to monitor and make consumers aware of GM products in market.
“Any product which has 5 per cent or more of the genetically engineered ingredient shall be labelled. This has gone to their panel and to the authority which will take a view on this and we hope to get a decision on the labelling aspect very soon,” secretary of the Department of Health said.

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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.