Chennai: Intake of sugar and salt went down in some foreign countries after the introduction of Front of Pack Labelling (FoPL) on food products and India must also follow the same, said experts in health and consumer welfare.
At a webinar organised by Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group in association with Women’s Christian College, Chennai, and later to the media, experts said that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) must notify the FoPL regulations at the earliest as the issue is of extremely serious nature.
“In countries like Canada, Chile, Israel, Uruguay, FoPL on food products have proved to be successful in reducing intake of sodium and sugar. Therefore, it is important for India to come out with the FoPL regulations soon. Clear warnings about the presence of high salt, sugar or fat in packed food would help consumers make informed choices,” said Pradeep Agarwal, Associate Professor, AIIMS Rishikesh.
He said one major reason for the non-communicable diseases pandemic is the change in the dietary habits with processed foods that are high on salt, sugar or fat being consumed in sizeable quantities.
According to Saroja, Executive Director, CAG, unmonitored salt, sugar and fat intake poses a significant threat to health of millions of Indians.
“To warn consumers about the nutrients of concern, we are calling for FoPL like warning labels. These are messages that need to be conspicuously placed in packaged foods that will immediately warn consumers about the health risks of what they are about to consume,” she said.
A.J. Hemamalini, Professor and Head, Department of Clinical Nutrition, Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, said, “Nutrient profiling is a scientific method of categorizing foods according to their nutritional composition and is developed with the main objective of reducing consumption of salt, fat and sugar.”
The nutrition profile models (NPM) translate this into specific food and beverage targets and help us to identify foods that are high in salt, sugar, or fats, she added.
“Based on the “limits” established by the NPM, the front-of-pack label informs consumers in a clear manner whether a product contains excessive sugar, salt or fat, thus helping them make healthier choices,” Hemamalini said.