FSSAI Approves Bold Nutritional Labelling For Packaged Foods

In a significant move to promote public health and well-being, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has approved an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020. This amendment mandates the display of nutritional information regarding total sugar, salt, and saturated fat in bold letters and a larger font size on packaged food labels. The decision, taken during the 44th meeting of the Food Authority chaired by Sri Apurva Chandra, aims to empower consumers with clear information to make healthier dietary choices, thereby contributing to the fight against the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. 

This recent initiative of FSSAI shows the need for clear and easy information about nutrition on food labels. FSSAI has approved a proposal to put indications like total sugar, salt, and saturated fat in bold letters and a higher font size so as to make them readable by consumers for them to easily grasp the nutritional value of the products they are purchasing. It should, therefore, enable consumers to make safe dietary choices, probably reducing various lifestyle-related health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases in return. 

The amendment is part of a broader strategy to combat the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, are increasingly becoming a significant public health challenge. Clearer food labelling is a crucial step towards mitigating this trend by encouraging healthier eating habits. 

In addition to empowering consumers, the enhanced labelling requirements are expected to influence food manufacturers to reformulate their products to meet the growing demand for healthier options. The information on the per serve percentage contribution to recommended dietary allowances (RDA) will now be more prominently displayed, providing consumers with a better understanding of how each serving fits into their daily nutritional needs. 

Regulations 2(v) and 5(3) of the FSS (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020, which specify the requirements for mentioning serving size and nutritional information, respectively, will be strictly enforced to ensure compliance. The draft notification for this amendment will be made public to invite suggestions and objections, allowing stakeholders to contribute to the final regulation. 

This move by FSSAI is not just a national effort but also aligns with global initiatives to combat NCDs. By prioritizing the development of clear and distinguished labelling requirements, India joins the global community in promoting healthier food choices and improving public health outcomes. 

In addition to the labelling amendment, FSSAI continues to issue advisories to prevent false and misleading claims by food business operators (FBOs). Recent advisories have targeted the use of terms such as 'health drink,' which is not defined or standardized under the FSS Act 2006, and the misleading claims of 100% fruit juices in reconstituted fruit juices. These measures ensure that consumers are not misled by inaccurate or exaggerated health claims. 

The 44th meeting of the Food Authority, which saw the approval of this amendment, was attended by senior officials from various ministries, states, union territories, industry associations, consumer organizations, research institutes, and farmer organizations. This broad representation underscores the collaborative effort needed to address public health challenges and promote a healthier future for India.