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Enhancing Food Accessibility with QR Codes for the Visually Impaired


The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed the incorporation of QR codes on food products to promote food accessibility among visually impaired individuals, emphasizing universal access to safe food.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. FSSAI’s Recommendations for QR Codes on Food Products for the Visually Impaired
  2. Current Concerns Regarding Access to Safe Food
  3. Importance of the Initiative
  4. What is a QR Code?

FSSAI’s Recommendations for QR Codes on Food Products for the Visually Impaired

The FSSAI has provided essential recommendations in line with its Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, to enhance food accessibility for the visually impaired. These recommendations ensure that crucial product information is accessible to all consumers, including those with visual impairments. The key points are:

  • Compliance with Regulations:
    • The FSSAI’s recommendations align with the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020, to uphold food safety and protect consumer rights.
  • Inclusivity and Equal Access:
    • The introduction of QR codes on food products for visually impaired individuals adheres to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, emphasizing inclusivity and equal access to vital information.
  • Comprehensive Information:
    • QR codes will contain extensive product details, encompassing information such as ingredients, nutritional content, allergens, manufacturing date, best-before/expiry/use-by date, allergen warnings, and customer inquiry contact information.
  • Supplementary Information:
    • The incorporation of QR codes for accessibility does not eliminate or replace the necessity for mandatory information to be displayed on product labels, complying with relevant regulations.

Current Concerns Regarding Access to Safe Food

Rising Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs):

  • India is witnessing a significant surge in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular ailments.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has observed a global uptrend in NCDs in the past two decades.
  • NCDs are partly linked to the consumption of aggressively marketed, affordable, and readily available pre-packaged foods that are gaining popularity among consumers.

Importance of the Initiative

Enhanced Accessibility for the Visually Impaired:

  • QR codes are scannable using smartphone applications that can audibly convey product information to visually impaired consumers, ensuring they have equal access to crucial food product details.
  • This initiative promotes inclusivity and provides equal access to safe food for all consumers.

Empowering Consumers:

  • The detailed information contained within QR codes empowers all consumers, including those with dietary restrictions or allergies, enabling them to make informed choices and reducing the risk of adverse reactions or health concerns.
  • Consumers can verify manufacturer claims and select products that align with their health and dietary requirements.

Supporting Healthy Choices:

  • In a market filled with pre-packaged foods, consumers can distinguish between healthier and less healthy options using nutritional information and allergen warnings within QR codes.
  • This enables consumers to make informed choices that contribute to their overall well-being.

Global Alignment:

  • The utilization of QR codes on food products is not unique to India. Countries like the US, France, the UK, and India have adopted QR codes on food products.
  • This aligns with global trends where consumers worldwide use QR codes to access information about the products they purchase.

What is a QR Code?

A QR (Quick Response) code is a specialized type of two-dimensional matrix barcode that has the capability to store a wide range of data formats, including alphanumeric text, website URLs, contact details, and more. Key details about QR codes include:

Origins and Purpose:

  • QR codes were first developed in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave. Initially, they were created for the primary purpose of tracking and labeling automotive components.

Distinctive Appearance:

  • QR codes are recognizable by their square shape and characteristic pattern of black squares arranged on a white background.

Scannable and Interpretation:

  • QR codes are designed to be read and interpreted through the use of a QR code reader or via a smartphone camera. These devices decode the information stored within the code, allowing users to access the associated data or content.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023