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Expedite law on front-of-pack labelling with clear timelines: Experts

Nutrition experts, public health advocates and civil society organisations on the World Obesity Day on Thursday urged the food regulator to expedite the law on front-of-pack (FoP) labelling with clear timelines for implementation for the industry.

The appeal comes at a time the FSSAI is known to be holding consultations with stakeholders on the issue. In 2013, an expert committee set up to look into junk food in schools recommended the need for FoP labelling for calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt. Since then there have been multiple panels, but no final outcome yet.

“There is no time for delay. The FSSAI must come up with a law now with clear timelines. The front of pack labelling has been under discussion for seven years. Many affected are multi-national companies who know the global best practices but dilly-dally as much as possible in India,” said Amit Khurana, Programme Director, Food Safety and Toxins Unit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), during a webinar on the importance of the labelling.

There has been much debate over what should be the design — from logos endorsing a product as healthy, numerical indicators, “traffic light” and warning ‘labels’, but nutrition experts vote for mandatory warning labels as the most successful one.

“Warning labels are the only approach that have demonstrated a real world change in purchasing and reformulation [of food products],” said Barry Popkin, Professor of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. “As a public health scholar, the large number of randomised control trials and the Chilean approach have shown me that warning labels are the way forward to reduce obesity, hypertension and many nutrition related non-communicable diseases.”

Dr. Rekha Harish, a public health expert, sounded a note of caution and said while formulating rules, it is important that cut-offs for calories, sugar also take into consideration their harmful effect on children who consume junk foods from a very young age.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 9:19:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/expedite-law-on-front-of-pack-labelling-with-clear-timelines-experts/article33992217.ece

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