24 April, 2018
The Indian govt plan to adopt new food labelling regulations that order detailed nutrition information on the front of packaging in a fixed format is being bitterly opposed by the industry. This is particularly because of the draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018 issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which includes authorisation for the regulator to introduce a traffic-lights warning system on food packs. The proposal says the FSSAI could, if it chose, introduce a “colour-coding system”, including marking potentially unhealthy foods with a red-light symbol.
Subod Jindal, president of All India Food Processors’ Association, accused the Indian authorities of “damaging the sector and added if the half of the front of the label is covered with a big table giving salt, sugar, fat and such things in a particular design, then the remaining valid information which the consumer needs to select the product gets compressed. Also the entire range of brands on the shelf will look alike.
This policy on labelling changes would cost manufacturers millions of rupees to change their labels and designs. And this would be a significant problem for smaller brands: While the large companies can do that within few months the millions of [small-and-medium-sized food companies] will take much longer.
The FSSAI has already completed its own internal review of the regulation and a spokesperson said it could come into force as early as June. However, Jindal was not happy with this schedule, noting that the regulator was not helping the industry and should heed its warnings and amend the final regulation to take account of its concerns.