FSSAI mandates colour-coded labels on items with high fat, sugar content

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New Delhi:The front of all packaged food items will have to display the total number of calories, saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugar content as well as the proportion of the daily energy need it satisfies under the new labelling guidelines proposed by the national food regulator.

“The colour coded display has been under consideration for some time. This is beneficial for consumers as they will easily be able to tell whether a product is healthy or not depending on its fat, sugar and salt content… The draft will be notified soon, in a few days,” said Pawan Agarwal, CEO of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

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The draft will be available in the public domain for comments for a month, after which it will be finalised. Food items will have to colour the nutrient label red in case the energy from added sugar is over 10% of the total energy provided by 100 gm or 100 ml of the product and the energy from trans fat is more than 1%.

“There is a need for good front-of-pack labelling norms, in particular about the harmful fats, sugars, and salts. Similar norms are followed in many other countries, and studies suggest there has been a decrease in the number of people consuming these foods,” said Amit Khurana, programme manager, food safety and toxins, at the Centre for Science and Environment. FSSAI has also changed the symbol of vegetarian food from a green circle to a green triangle to help colour blind people distinguish it from the brown circle denoting non-vegetarian food.