Draft norms impractical; may hurt product quality: industry
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is in the process of overhauling the labelling regulations for packaged food products, has begun a nutrient threshold study to assess the current market scenario.
The draft regulations propose colour-coded labelling to enable consumers to identify products that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products.
The draft regulations had proposed certain thresholds and packaged products display red-color coding if levels of saturated fat, salt and sugar are higher than the prescribed threshold levels. However, industry had called these nutrient thresholds “impractical”, and had raised concerns that if implemented in the current form, would require majority of products to display red-colour coding on their labels.
The industry associations in their submission said that stringent thresholds will have an adverse impact on product quality and may lead to loss of consumer preference. Minister for State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwani Kumar Choubey informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply on Friday, “The FSSAI has notified draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2019, on June 25, 2019 for inviting public comments. Around 900 comments were received. In addition, industry associations also raised concerns on the specified thresholds of salt, sugar and fat and requested to contextualise thresholds based on Indian scenario.”
He added that the Ministry of Food Processing has also urged the FSSAI to constitute a working group to review the thresholds.
“The Scientific Panel concerned deliberated upon the comments and recommended to constitute a Working Group and to initiate a study to obtain market-validated, category-wise baseline data for reviewing the thresholds. Accordingly, as per the Scientific Panel’s recommendation, the FSSAI has initiated a nutrient threshold study to assess the current Indian market scenario,” the Minister stated in his reply.
Revised ‘honey’ standards
In a separate reply to a query raised whether reduction in pollen count from 25,000 to 5,000 in the revised standards for Indian honey is disincentivising honeygrowers, the Minister said,
“The FSSAI informed that revision in pollen count requirement has been made based on the inputs received from the experts from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and the Central Bee Research and Training Institute (CBRTI), representing the true picture of pollen count in Indian honey.”