INDIA – Experts from the consumer welfare as well as health industry have implored the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to speed up the Front of Pack Labelling (FoPL) regulations as the issue is of an extremely serious nature.

This was at a webinar organized by Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group in association with Women’s Christian College, Chennai.

Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) is a non-profit, non-political, professional organization working towards protecting citizens’ rights in consumer issues.

The experts expressed that the intake of sugar and salt substantially went down in some foreign countries following the introduction of FoPL on food products and India must also follow the same.

“In countries like Canada, Chile, Israel, Uruguay, FoPL on food products have proved to be successful in reducing intake of sodium and sugar. Therefore, it is important for India to come out with the FoPL regulations soon. Clear warnings about the presence of high salt, sugar or fat in packed food would help consumers make informed choices,” said Pradeep Agarwal, Associate Professor, AIIMS Rishikesh.

He said one major reason for the non-communicable diseases pandemic is the change in the dietary habits with processed foods that are high on salt, sugar or fat being consumed in sizeable quantities.

According to Saroja, Executive Director, CAG, unmonitored salt, sugar and fat intake poses a significant threat to the health of millions of Indians.

“To warn consumers about the nutrients of concern, we are calling for FoPL like warning labels. These are messages that need to be conspicuously placed in packaged foods that will immediately warn consumers about the health risks of what they are about to consume,” she said.

A.J. Hemamalini, Professor and Head, Department of Clinical Nutrition, Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, defined nutrient profiling as a scientific method of categorizing foods according to their nutritional composition and is developed with the main objective of reducing consumption of salt, fat and sugar.

She added that the nutrition profile models (NPM) translate this into specific food and beverage targets and help to identify foods that are high in salt, sugar, or fats.

“Based on the “limits” established by the NPM, the front-of-pack label informs consumers in a clear manner whether a product contains excessive sugar, salt or fat, thus helping them make healthier choices,” Hemamalini said.

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