CSE hails draft regulations on food lebelling
Days after Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) released a draft regulations pertaining to labelling and display of food products, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has welcomed mandatory labelling of salt and introduction of front-of-pack labelling and called them positive steps. However, regulation needs strengthening, it said.
Green body, CSE also said that celebrities should not be allowed to advertise foods high in salt, sugar or fat and discourage advertisement of certain High Salt Fat and Sugar (HFSS) foods and also introduce strict broadcasting regulations to limit exposure of children to such advertisements.
"A strict labelling law is very important to combat obesity and non-communicable diseases plaguing our country. Though this draft Regulation is a good beginning, it also has major gaps that need to be plugged to make it effective," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
Pointing out significant gaps, CSE said that the draft Regulation does not provide for labelling of crucial aspects like added sugar and dietary fibres. "Public health and nutrition experts recommend that it is best to avoid added sugar in food items. It can be measured and controlled and therefore, must be labelled. Also, dietary fibre is a key beneficial component of our diet and must also be labelled. This will help consumers make informed and healthy food choices," said Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins unit, CSE.
It may be noted that the draft regulation states that HFSS food products shall not be advertised to children in any form. CSE researchers point out that this is not enough.
"Children are key consumers of HFSS food items and the burden of childhood obesity is rising. The FSSAI needs to adopt a detailed framework to regulate advertisement of HFSS foods. Celebrities should not be allowed to endorse them and there should be no advertisement of certain food categories such as soft drinks. Broadcasting regulations should be developed to limit the exposure of children to food advertisements during prime time programmes," CSE officials said.
The draft Regulation emphasises on providing nutrition information for each serving of a food item.
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