FHW Staff – Mumbai
Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) is revising food labelling norms and examining global models, its CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal informed. “Our labelling provisions are currently under revision. We are looking at Codex norms. We are going beyond that to see our labelling norms are robust,” Agarwal said.
He was speaking at the launch of ‘India Spotlight Index 2016’ published by the Netherlands-based NGO The Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF). FSSAI will also look at best global practices as far as regulations are concerns, he added.
Highlighting the steps taken to tackle malnutrition in India, Agarwal said the regulator has come out with fortification standards and many firms have shown interest. “The government is committed to address issues related to malnutrition head on. Fortification is one amongst the initiatives being taken to address malnutrition,” he said. While fortification has been made mandatory in some areas, in many areas, particularly in packaged food, it is not feasible, he noted. Talking about the index, the FSSAI chief said, “Those areas where it cannot be made mandatory and where you cannot directly intervene to ensure more nutritious food, this kind of index can be critical. The findings of the index, which has assessed 14 companies, is fairly known and do not throw out any major surprises. But this at least focused attention on desirable expectation from food businesses.”
“We will use this report to nudge the rest of the food businesses. In the area of nutrition, the role of the government is primarily to nudge citizens to adopt good nutrition practices. At the same time, the food businesses should manufacture and supply nutrition-rich food in the market. Otherwise, citizens will not have choices,” he added.
Inge Kauer, executive director, ATNF, said, “The largest food and beverages manufacturers in India are falling far short of what they need to do in help fight the enduring and mounting double burden of malnutrition.”
On product profiling, the FSSAI chief said, “A company may have good corporate profile, but if its product file is not having high nutritional values, it is not really helpful.” Agarwal also urged ATNF to assess more companies in the 2018 report.