India?s national food safety regulator again delays implementation of amended food labelling standards

India?s national food safety regulator again delays implementation of amended food labelling standards

New Delhi (ISJ) ? India?s national food safety regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has further delayed implementation of amended standards for labelling of class titles, trans fat and saturated fat on food products till June 30, 2017.

The amended standards were notified in May 2016, but extended initially by six months till December 2016 and then further to February 27, 2017.

The amendment entails the quantity of trans fats and saturated fats should be mentioned on labels of edible oils, interesterified vegetable fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils), edible fats, margarine, fat spreads (mixed fat spread and vegetable fat spreads) and food packages where fats, oils and fat emulsions are used as ingredients.

The extension has been granted at stakeholders? request to provide them with additional time to utilise their existing stock of packaging materials. However, food business operators are required to comply with the maximum limit of trans-fatty acid (not more than five per cent by weight) with effect from February 28, 2017.

?FSSAI is not doing what they have committed to. Delay in implementation of regulations is happening due to industry pressure. There is no need to give them additional time period to comply with this amendment as they have already been granted extra time last year and, that too, twice. Such delays are against consumer interest and public health,? says Ashok Kanchan, Chief Advisor for Food, Health and Nutrition at Consumer VOICE.

Implementation of this amendment, which was notified in 2015, was also delayed significantly in the past but good news is that this has finally come into effect from February this year. The revised limit on trans fat was also enforced after several delays in the implementation of initial limit of 10 per cent by weight, which took three years to get notified in June 2013. This was despite the fact that the limit on trans fats used were much higher than the standards set by countries such as Denmark and Switzerland.

Declaration of information on the product labels is critical for consumer awareness and delay in implementation of these indicates that public health is not important in our country when compared to simple procedural changes that food industry is supposed to cooperate with.

In arrangement with: Down to Earth

Image courtesy: Down to Earth

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