FSSAI plans mandatory colour coding for sugary and salty foods

The move is among a number of measures which are a part of FSSAI’s new draft regulation on labelling and display

By Meenakshi Sushma
Published: Thursday 27 June 2019
Photo: Getty Images

You might see red colour coding on packaged food products which are rich in sugar, salt and fat in the next three years, if the national food safety regulator has its way.

The measure is part of the new draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations announced by the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) on June 25, 2019.

These will replace the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011.

Information on calories (energy), saturated fats, trans-fats, added sugar and sodium per serve should be mentioned on the Front of the Pack (FoP) according to the regulation.

The labels will also declare, per serve percentage contribution to Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).

In addition to the FoP label, FSSAI is planning for the mandatory red colour coding for products which are High in Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS), but this would be implemented in phases over the period of three years.

In addition to all this, the draft regulation has brought out small changes within the existing regulation.

For instance, information about allergens will now have to be provided. A new logo for vegetarian food, which consists of a green colour-filled triangle inside a square with a green outline, will be provided to enable colour-blind people to know about the nature of the product.

FoPs are not a new concept. A country like Canada had introduced these in 1999. Other countries like France, Israel and the United Kingdom also have implemented FoP.

The new draft regulation has been brought to encourage consumers to make healthier food choices and inform them about what the product actually contains.

The regulation is out for suggestions and comments need to be submitted within 30 days. But industry has raised several issues with regards to FoP labelling and FSSAI has stated that these would be considered during the regulation’s finalisation.

The new draft regulation is the result of a long-drawn process. 

In December 2010, a petition filed by the Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups, a Delhi-based organisation which works on child welfare, stated that "a policy had to be framed for regulating the sale of junk food not only within the precincts of schools but also within a radius of 500 metres of schools.”

On September 4, 2013, the Delhi High Court had ordered FSSAI to set up a working group in this regard. Accordingly, the FSSAI had set up a working group to come up with a draft regulation for food High in Fat, Sugar, and Salt (HFSS) on January 16, 2014. Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi, was the Co-Chair of the committee. 

In February 2015, while hearing the petition, the Delhi High Court had directed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to enforce its guidelines to restrict the availability of HFSS in schools and nearby areas.

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