FSSAI wants calorie count on restaurant menu to promote healthy habits

INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has called on restaurants to voluntarily indicate calorie counts on menus to promote healthy diets and lifestyles in the country, reported ET Retail.

The food regulator has also asked the e-commerce and retail companies to promote healthy options such as fortified foods on their landing pages and checkout counters.

This is one of FSSAI’s latest move in tackling lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity through provision of nutritional and dietary information.

Pawan Agarwal, chief executive of the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) said the step was part of the Eat Right Movement that is yet to be launched.

Eat Right movement aims to promote production of healthier FMCG food products in the industry while getting the food industry on board for implementation of draft food labelling regulation.

It involves commitments from food companies on reformulation of their products with less salt and sugar besides elimination of trans fats in a phased manner.

Restaurants on the other hand are required to promote safe and healthy eating practices and help consumers in making informed choices through calorie information labelling.

Voluntary commitments include printing low fat, salt and sugar variants on the menu.

Commenting on the matter, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) secretary general Prakul Kumar said, “The recipes of dishes on the menu in a restaurant are not standardised, so it will be a huge challenge to mention calorie count of dishes on the menu.”

The authority has also asked packaged food companies to commit to reducing sugar, unhealthy fats and salt in a phased manner.

“Big food companies including Nestle, ITC, Patanjali, big quick service restaurant (QSR) chains (including halwai associations), major organised retailers and ecommerce players including Big-Basket, Amazon Grofers will make a simple commitment and sign a pledge to promote healthy eating,” Agarwal said.

FSSAI has proposed a draft on food safety and standards regulations that involve nutritional labeling on FMCG i.e, on salt and sugar.

It has also proposed to limit the maximum trans-fat content in vegetable oils, vegetable fat and hydrogenated vegetable oil to 2% by weight as part of its goal to make India trans-fat free by 2022.

To achieve this, FSSAI has invited a collaboration with top food companies, QSR chains, oil companies and organised retailers.

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