The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, or FSSAI for short, has reportedly announced that it has decided to attach food safety labels on the front of packaged food based on the harm that fat, sugar, and salt do to human health.
According to reports, however, as of yet there is no agreement among the consumer and food industry organizations on what the new label should say.
Sources cite, the industry wants the label to inform consumers about the amount of sugar, salt, fats, and sodium, in the food without providing health warnings. The food industry stated that the goal is to empower consumers to make informed decisions on their own rather than discouraging them from eating packaged food.
On the other hand, consumer and advocacy organizations claimed that most customers would not know how much salt, fat, and sugars are beneficial or harmful for their health if just an amount is mentioned. Therefore, labels should explicitly say whether the product is suitable for human consumption or not.
Arun Singhal, chief executive of FSSAI, stated that the authority would get a people's perception study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, on what kind of label people would like. Singhal added that after the completion of the study, a draft and then a final list of guidelines on the front of the package label (FOPL) would be rolled out.
The FSSAI took nearly eight years to reach this point because the industry was hesitant to have front-of-package food safety labels, as introduced in other countries like Brazil and Chile, plainly informing whether the product is healthy for consumers or not. The processed food business in India is estimated to be worth $44 billion and increasing at a rate of around 24% per year.
Singhal went on and informed that five sorts of labels are being considered: traffic light indicators, health star ratings, nutrition scores, as well as warning symbols.