International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name has been quietly infiltrating Indian government’s health and nutrition bodies influencing India’s food policy on behalf of the chemical industry.
New Food Packaging Labeling Rules
Last year the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) proposed to introduce a traffic light labelling measure, with red spots being used to warn of high fat, sugar or salt content in packaged foods. The FSSAI said these would form the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018.
The draft regulation states that packaged food manufacturers and firms are required to declare nutritional information such as calories (energy), total fat, trans-fat, total sugar and salt per serve, as well as per serve percentage contribution to the recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
The new label will be front-of-pack. Other requirements in the comprehensive set of guidelines include a symbol on the label indicating whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian food (a green triangle or brown circle, respectively).
Most significantly, it would be mandatory for food products with high fat, sugar or salt content to display a red-coloured mark on the front-of-pack label.
“The blocks of nutrients for “High Fat, Sugar and Salt” (HFSS) food shall be coloured red in the case where the value of energy (kcal) from total sugar is more than 10 percent of the total energy (kcal) provided by the 100 g/100 ml of the product; the value of energy (kcal) from trans-fat is more than 1 percent of the total energy (kcal) provided by the 100 g/100 ml of the product; and total fat or sodium content provided by the 100 g/100 ml of the product is more than the threshold values,” the draft regulation stated.
It added: “The Food Authority may introduce colour coding system in addition to marking of foods as ‘Red’ within the specified thresholds from time to time.” Furthermore, it stated that it would be prohibited for HFSS food products to be advertised, in any form, to children.
Mandatory GM labelling
In a first, the draft regulation also stated a need to declare genetically modified ingredients on the labels.