India’s food safety regulator has issued draft regulations that it hopes will lead to packaged food companies putting clearer nutrition labels on the front of their products.

At present, the norm is to put the labels at the back of the product.

Concerned about growing obesity levels in the country, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) wants to see colour-coded labels which clearly indicate high levels of fat, sugar and salt.

In a statement issued this week, the FSSAI said it wants to encourage consumers to make healthier choices.

“FSSAI is in the process of a comprehensive revision of Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, with the objective of having three different regulations dealing separately to packaging, labelling and advertisement and claims requirements,” it said. 

It added: “The idea behind the new labelling regulations is to enable citizens to know more about the composition of food products, so that they can make informed choices.” 

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By GlobalData

If the proposed draft regulations are adopted, packaged food companies would need to declare nutritional information such as calories, saturated fat, trans-fat, added sugar and sodium per serve on the front of the pack. The food labels would also declare, per serve percentage contribution to RDA (recommended dietary allowance) on the front of the pack.

The FSSAI said it wants it to become mandatory for food manufacturers to display red colour-coding on front-of-the-pack labels on packaged food products that have high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt content levels. It said this requirement would be implemented in a phased manner for a period of three years.

Its planned regulations also propose that date marking, including date of manufacturing and date of expiry, must be in one place and that food allergen warning symbols should be included on the labels.

The FSSAI has invited suggestions and objections from stakeholders within 30 days from the publication of the draft regulations.

The plans are likely to face some opposition. India’s The Economic Times newspaper quoted Subodh Jindal, president of the All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA), as saying the proposed regulations are “not scientific enough” and impractical.