Wednesday, December 7, 2022

India’s New Nutrition Rating

The centre has released a draft notification making it mandatory for packaged foods to carry a star graphic showing the amount of nutrients in them

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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released a draft notification for front-of-pack labelling to discourage consumers from buying packaged food high in sugar, salt and fat.

As per the draft notification, it will be mandatory for packaged foods to carry a star graphic next to the brand name. The star graphic, ranging from 0 to 5, will be placed next to the name of the brand. Like the star-rating system for energy efficiency of electronic products, the “Indian Nutrition Rating (INR)” will see the unhealthiest food items carry a low rating and the healthiest ones a high rating. More stars indicate that the packaged food has higher nutrients. 

A notification was issued on September 13, 2022, to amend the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling & Display) Regulations, 2020, which the FSSAI proposes to make with the approval of the centre. The notification said that objections or suggestions, if any, may be addressed to the CEO, FSSAI, within 60 days.

These regulations may be called the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling & Display) Amendment Regulations, 2022. Compliance shall be voluntary until a period of 48 months from the date of final notification and mandatory thereafter.

In the notification, the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling & Display) Regulations, 2020, the following amendments were made:

(1) In Chapter 1, Regulation 2 relating to “Definitions”, the following shall be inserted: “Front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) is a form of supplementary nutrition information that presents simplified nutrition information on the front-of-pack of pre-packaged foods. It can include symbols/ graphics, text or a combination thereof that provides information on the overall nutritional value of the food and/or on nutrients included in the FOPNL.”

“High fat, sugar, salt (HFSS) food means a processed food product which has high levels of saturated fat or total sugar or sodium. The declared values of these ingredients are such that the product; does not satisfy the value of energy (kcal) from total sugar less than 10 percent of total energy, or from saturated fat 10 percent of total energy, and sodium less than 1 mg/1 kcal.”

(2) In regulation 5 relating to “Labelling Requirement”, the following proviso shall be inserted which says “provided that the percentage of Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, Legumes & Millets, if present in the food product, shall be declared”.

For the purpose of FOPNL, the baseline reference values for four risk factors—energy, total sugars, saturated fat and sodium per 100 g or 100 ml of the product—and the minimum percentage of positive nutrients viz, fruit & vegetable; nuts, legumes & millets; fibre and protein for consideration in the calculation for rating of a specific solid foods or liquid foods is provided in Table-1 of Schedule–III.

Further, all processed and packaged food products covered under the regulations are classified into three categories—Category-I (solid foods), Category-II (liquid foods) and Category-III (exempted from FOPNL). The system of pictorial display shall be referred to as Indian Nutrition Rating (INR).

The list of solid foods/liquid foods under Category III (exempted from FOPNL) are provided in Schedule-IV. Any beverage/carbonated beverage without energy and/or sugar shall not be eligible for a star rating.

The notification also stated that, every packaged food except those exempted from nutritional information shall display the prescribed format (INR) in front of the pack, calculated on the basis of contribution of energy (in kilocalories), saturated fat (g), total sugar (g) and sodium (mg) and the positive nutrients per 100 g of solid food or 100 ml of liquid food, using the formula mentioned in Table 5 of Schedule–III.

Food business operators (FBOs) may give additional interpretive information as per serve the percentage contribution to RDA of energy, total sugars, saturated fats and sodium expressed as salt equivalent. FBOs shall submit their product’s relevant nutrient profile in the Food Safety Compliance System for generating the respective INR score and the logo with or without the optional interpretive information. Food products with milk logos as specified under Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011 shall be exempted from the purview of HFSS definition.  

—By Adarsh Kumar  and India Legal Bureau

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