FSSAI releases draft notification on star-rating for packaged food

Public health experts have pushed for “warning labels” instead, and said “star-rating” could be misleading

Published - September 22, 2022 04:52 am IST - NEW DELHI

Public health experts have been opposed to the health-star rating system as they say it gives a “health halo” because of its positive connotation making it harder to identify harmful products. 

Public health experts have been opposed to the health-star rating system as they say it gives a “health halo” because of its positive connotation making it harder to identify harmful products.  | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has issued a draft notification on front-of-package labelling, which proposes “Indian Nutrition Rating” (INR) modelled on the health star-rating system.

The draft of the amended Food Safety and Standards (Labelling & Display) Regulations, 2020 made public on Tuesday requires packaged food to display the prescribed format of INR by assigning a rating from 1/2 star (least healthy) to five stars (healthiest).

The INR is to be calculated on the basis of contribution of energy, saturated fat, total sugar, sodium and the positive nutrients per 100 gm of solid food or 100 ml of liquid food.

The star assigned to a product “shall be displayed close in proximity to the name or brand name of the product on front of pack,” says the draft notification.

Certain food products such as milk and milk-based products, egg-based desserts, infant formula, salads and sandwich spreads and alcoholic beverages have been exempted.

Public health experts have been opposed to the health-star rating system as they say it gives a “health halo” because of its positive connotation making it harder to identify harmful products. They instead recommend warning labels such as an octagonal “stop” symbol which global studies have shown is the only format that has led to a positive impact on food and beverage purchases forcing the industry, for example in Chile, to reformulate their products and remove major amounts of sugar and salt.

Stakeholders have been given 60 days to submit their responses to the draft notification.

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