The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recommended the inclusion of QR code on food products for accessibility by visually impaired individuals stating that this will ensure access to safe food for all including individuals with special needs such as visually impaired individuals.
In its recent advisory signed by Director, Science and Standards Division, Amit Sharma, the authority notes that ensuring inclusive access to information is a fundamental right of citizens.
“It’s imperative that food products are labelled in a manner that ensures accessibility to all consumers, including those with visual impairments,’’ said the communication.
The FSSAI under its Food Safety and Standards (Labeling and Display) Regulations, 2020 has comprehensively outlined the information to be included on the labels of food products.
This information includes product name, shelf life, nutrition facts, vegetarian/non-vegetarian logos, ingredient lists, allergen warnings, and other product specific labelling requirements. This information is aimed at empowering consumers to make informed choices when selecting food products. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 recognises the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities, which emphasises accessibility and the promotion of health for persons with disabilities.
The authority notes that to enhance accessibility, Food Business Operators are encouraged to incorporate provisions that facilitate easy access to nutritional information for visually impaired individuals.
“One effective means to achieve this is by incorporating Quick Response [QR] codes on product labels. These QR codes should encompass comprehensive details about the product, including, but not limited to, ingredients, nutritional information, allergens, manufacturing date, best before/expiry/use by date, allergen warning, and contact information for customer inquiries, ‘’ the FSSAI says.
It adds that it is pertinent to note that the inclusion of a QR code for the accessibility of information does not replace or negate the requirement to provide mandatory information on the product label, as prescribed by relevant regulations.