The central committee for food standards (CCFS), a statutory advisory body under the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), recently recommend to the ministry that labelling of nutritional value on all food products be made necessary under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA). Industry representatives opposed the decision, saying that as the Food Safety and Standard Bill, 2005, proposed by the Union ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), has already been introduced in the Lok Sabha, PFA should not be amended. The bill is crucial in that it calls for shifting the control of food-related issues to MoPFI from MoHFW. This would mean annulment of PFA and even the CCFS.
So far, providing nutrition information on the packaging of food products is not mandatory in India. CCFS is going to hold another meeting to determine the kind of information that should be put on the labels; international standards might be followed. This means, the labels will need to carry details of calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats contents. The amount of transfats will also have to be specified. Besides, they will need to warn patients of specific diseases, in case a product is harmful for them. The control on companies making loose claims about selling 'low fat', and 'low calorie' foods will also be tightened.
-- vibha varshney
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