• A panel discussion around ‘regulating bad food’ addressed the Draft Food Labelling Regulation whichwill soon be released for public comments. “It is done from FSSAI’s side and we expect the draft to come out soon.
• The thrust of the draft, which is not in the public domain, is the labelling of HFSS (high in fat, salt, sugar) foods, and their regulation.
Defining the category
• The definition of the category of packaged foods is based on the World Health Organization guidelines, with fat (including trans and saturated fats), sodium, and sugar over a certain limit getting a red marking.
• Taking a cue from tobacco control, warning labels have been seen to work in 37 randomised-control trials. Six countries have so far used the system, with Chile leading. The draft also looks into a freezing of serving size to standardise it across brands, in consonance with the recommended dietary allowances.
At present, mandatory elements on a label are: energy (in Kcal), along with protein, carbohydrate (with sugar), and fat. Information is mentioned as per 100 g or 100 ml.
• Salt or sodium information is not mandatory, despite the knowledge that a high, unreasonable amount is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In addition, there are gaps of ultra-processed food, exemption of small packs from labelling, and the presentation of an unhealthy food as healthy through methods like fortification.
Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: FSSAI