In a significant move to promote transparency and enable consumers to make healthier food choices, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed certain amendments to the existing Food Safety and Standards (Labeling & Display) Regulations, 2020. Published on 13th September 2022, the draft regulations aim to introduce Front-of-pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL) and redefine categories of food products to enable easy identification of healthier options.
Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL)
One of the most significant additions to the regulations is the introduction of Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL). FOPNL is a form of supplementary nutrition information that provides simplified data on the front of pre-packaged foods. This information includes overall nutritional value and specific nutrients present in the product. The FSSAI envisions that FOPNL will empower consumers to make informed choices and encourage the adoption of healthier dietary habits.
High Fat, Sugar, Salt (HFSS) Food Definition
The draft regulations propose a new definition of “High Fat, Sugar, Salt (HFSS) Food.” This term refers to processed food products with high levels of saturated fat, total sugar, or sodium. The declaration of these ingredients must meet specific energy value thresholds, ensuring that the product does not exceed unhealthy levels of these components. Regarding energy values, the proposed regulations set the following criteria:
- Energy (kcal) from total sugar: The product must not derive less than 10 percent of its total energy (calories) from sugar.
- Energy (kcal) from saturated fat: The product should not derive less than 10 percent of its total energy (calories) from saturated fat.
- Sodium content: The product’s sodium content should not exceed 1 milligram per 1 kilocalorie (kcal).
Under the proposed amendments, food businesses must adhere to new labeling requirements. The percentage of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and millets present in the food product, if applicable, must be declared. This measure aims to promote the consumption of whole and minimally processed foods and encourage healthier dietary patterns.
Indian Nutrition Rating (INR):
The regulations introduce the Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) system to assess the overall nutritional profile of packaged foods. The INR system rates foods on a scale from 1/2 star (least healthy) to 5 stars (healthiest). The system is based on the contribution of energy, saturated fat, total sugar, sodium, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, dietary fiber, and protein per 100g or 100ml of the product. The INR logo will be displayed on the front of the pack, allowing consumers to make quick and informed choices.
The proposed amendments to the Food Safety and Standards (Labeling & Display) Regulations, 2020, represent a significant step towards promoting transparency and healthier food choices in India. The introduction of Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL) and the Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) system will empower consumers to make informed decisions about their dietary intake. Moreover, the redefined HFSS food category and the emphasis on declaring fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and millets will foster a healthier food culture. As these regulations move closer to implementation, the food industry will need to adapt its practices to align with the evolving consumer preferences for healthier, more transparent options.