FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal. Photo: Mint
FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal. Photo: Mint

Expert panel reviewing food labelling standards: FSSAI

Government puts on hold the draft that proposes red-labelling of packaged food products containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt

New Delhi: The government has put on hold the draft that proposes red-labelling of packaged food products containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt, FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal said today. In April, food safety regulator FSSAI had come out with the draft of Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations 2018 that propose mandatory red-label marking on such packaged food products.

“Our pre-draft was ready and sent to the health ministry. Since there were concerns expressed by some stakeholders, we have kept it on hold for the time being and a group of experts has been set up to look into the issue of labelling once again," Agarwal said. He was addressing a national consultation on the draft regulation organised by the CUTS International.

The expert panel will be headed by B Sesikeran, former director of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) as also the current director Hemalatha, besides Dr Nikhil Tandon, he said.

Food labelling regulations have remained a contentious issue in the packaged food industry, which sees them as an impediment to sales. Agarwal said the panel will study in detail the concerns of the industry and make recommendations.

“May be a little bit of tweaking (to the draft regulations) is required. We are open to it without compromising the basic directions of the labelling regulations,"Agarwal said.

Pitching for strong labelling norms at the earliest, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India CEO said it is difficult to ask consumers to change their eating habits. “We can make a dent if we can address it at the supply side by asking companies to adhere to labelling norms," he added.

Agarwal also made it clear that FSSAI will go ahead with the labelling norms even if there is no consensus on the matter after the panel’s suggestions.

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