INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has announced plans to introduce front-of-package (FoP) labeling on packaged foods to help consumers make healthier food choices.
The move by the Indian food regulator is in response to concern over increasing consumption of junk food leading to obesity in youth and children in India.
According to a recently published study, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in India has increased rapidly in recent decades and is projected to worsen during the forecast period ending 2040.
According to the PLoS study, the prevalence of overweight will more than double among Indian adults aged 20–69 years between 2010 and 2040, while the prevalence of obesity will triple.
Specifically, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is projected to reach 30.5% and 9.5% among men, and 27.4% and 13.9% among women, respectively, by 2040.
Given the association between overweight and obesity with many non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis, preventing their prevalence can help avert a medical crisis.
FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal believes the introduction of front-of-package (FoP) labeling on packaged foods will help consumers make healthier food choices and therefore help avert the looming health crisis.
Front of Package labels seek to provide simple nutrition information in a more accessible location instead of the back or side of packages.
“There is a rise in demand for packaged food. There is a need to provide information in a simple way about the impact of packaged food on health so that consumers can make choices,” Singhal said.
He also mentioned that many countries which used FoP labels saw a reduction in consumption of junk food.
The FSSAI CEO said several deliberations have been held with stakeholders. A consensus has been arrived at on most issues after elaborate consultations with the industry and consumers, who had different opinions of this issue initially.
To ensure the authority gets it right from the world go, IIM Ahmedabad has been asked to conduct a survey on the nature of FoP labels in the interest of consumers.
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