09 December 2022, New Delhi: The fear that front-of-the-pack labelling regulations proposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India would discredit Indian ethnic foods even as they favour western food products has led to a big clamour for a re-look at these guidelines.
The Indian Sellers Collective, an umbrella organisation of traders associations, on Thursday said the proposed regulations, which will rate food products based on their nutritional profile, would make Indian ethnic food products “look unhealthy” to consumers in comparison to western food products as they would get lower health star ratings.
According to an analysis by the industry body, products such as Mysore Pak, Peanut Chikki, Instant Poha and Mathura Peda will garner a rating of only 0.5 star (least healthy). Patisa and Soan Papdi will only get 1 star. Meanwhile, Besan Laddu, Rasgulla, Khakhra, Bhujia Sev, Dharwad Peda and Mishti Doi will end up being in 2-2.5 stars range. It also claimed that western food products, with equal or higher amounts of salt, sugar and fat content, will end up getting higher star ratings as they can be reformulated with substitutes for sugar, fat and salt.
Abhay Raj Mishra, Member & National Coordinator, Indian Sellers Collective, said, “Indian foods have evolved over centuries and are naturally designed to suit climatic conditions and genetic composition of Indians. But the proposed regulations disregard these facts, as it is a copy and paste regulation from the west. ”
The industry body also argued that the rating system ranks all food items on 100 g or 100 ml basis. It pointed out that products such as Mysore Pak are consumed in smaller single serves of about 20 g.
Harsh Gursahani, a food lawyer and Partner at PLR Chambers told businessline, “The FSSAI should take into consideration Indian consumption habits before finalising the star ratings. It should also consider delaying the implementation of these regulations till that formula is perfected even if it is planned to be kept voluntary for the first four years.”
The draft regulations propose to give ratings to food products based on their nutrition profile ranging from 0.5 star – 5 stars.
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