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Nutrition Rating Stars on Food Packaging Labels

Context

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draught notification for front-of-pack labelling in order to discourage consumers from purchasing packaged foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Mains Question

Despite being self-sufficient in food production, India faces food insecurity and hunger as a result of widespread economic distress, high unemployment, and high levels of inequality. Comment (250 words)


FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India):

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is a legal entity established by the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006.
  • Objectives:
    • Establishing scientifically sound food standards
    • To govern the production, storage, distribution, import, and sale of food.
    • To improve food safety.

FSSAI’s Role/Functions:

  • Development of regulations to establish standards/guidelines for food articles.
  • Establishing mechanisms/guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies involved in food safety management system certification.
  • Establishing a national information network to ensure that the public receives reliable and objective information about food safety and other issues of concern.
  • Help develop international technical standards for food, sanitary, and phytosanitary standards.

Composition:

  • The FSSAI is made up of a Chairperson and twenty-two members, one-third of whom must be women.
  • The FSSAI Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government
  • The Food Authority is assisted in setting standards by Scientific Committees and Panels, and in coordinating with enforcement agencies by the Central Advisory Committee.
  • Ministry Concerned: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

At the state level:

  • The FSSAI appoints state-level food safety authorities.
  • The State Food Safety Commissioners are primarily responsible for enforcement.

Summary of Recent Events:

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draught notification for front-of-pack labelling in order to discourage consumers from purchasing packaged foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.
  • According to the draught notification, packaged foods will be required to have a star graphic next to the brand name.
  • Similar to the star-rating system for the energy efficiency of electronic products, the ‘Indian Nutrition Rating (INR)’ will assign a low rating to the unhealthiest food items and a high rating to the healthiest.

Concerning the Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) System:

  • The INR system assigns a rating of 12 stars (least healthy) to 5 stars to the overall nutritional profile of packaged food (healthiest).
  • More stars indicate that the food product is better positioned to meet the daily nutrient needs of humans.
  • According to the notification, solid food with a score greater than 25 will receive 0.5 stars, while those with a score less than – (minus)11 will receive 5 stars.
  • In order to generate the star-rating logo for the product, food businesses must submit nutritional profiles for the products in question to the FSSAI’s portal.

What exactly is Front of Package Labeling (FoPL)?

  • Excess sugar, fat, and sodium consumption is a public health issue linked to the noncommunicable diseases that afflict the majority of the population.
  • Overweight or obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and vascular, heart, and brain diseases, as well as kidney disease, are examples of noncommunicable diseases.
  • The widespread availability, affordability, and promotion of processed and ultra-processed food products has contributed significantly to the excess intake of these nutrients.
  • Front-of-package warning labelling is a simple, practical, and effective tool for informing the public about potentially harmful products and guiding purchasing decisions.
  • In India, an expert committee formed by the FSSAI recommended FoPL on packaged foods in 2014.

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October 2022
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