January 11, 2023
Front of Pack Labelling draft regulation was introduced by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on 20th September 2022. The move is to strengthen the Food Labelling ecosystem in India and to offer quick guidance to consumers on the nutrition profile of Packaged Foods. FOPL on packaged food products would mean that consumers can be guided on the choice of their food products by referring to the Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) model that will assign Stars on the front panel of the pack. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Israel, Peru, Brazil and Mexico, among others have implemented front-of-pack-labelling on packaged food products, indicating to the consumer in 10 seconds how healthy the product is. India too is expected to follow suit, and in a couple of years supermarkets will see the influx of packaged food products denoting their front of pack labels.
As per the definition given by FSSAI: “Front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPL) is a form of supplementary nutrition information that presents simplified nutrition information on the front-of-pack of pre-packaged foods. It can include symbols/graphics, text or a combination thereof that provide information on the overall nutritional value of the food and/or on nutrients included in the FOPL.” It is a quick and easy-to-understand information for consumers at the point of purchase, allowing them to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy food and drink options. Simply put, general people need a clear and easy way to make healthier purchases. The chosen method by FSSAI to denote this simplified nutrition information on the front panel is through Health Star Rating introduced and adopted by Australia & New Zealand. In Indian Context, it is named as Indian Nutrition Rating (INR), a system wherein product is rated on nutrition parameters and stars are assigned from ½ star (least healthy) to 5 stars (healthiest). More stars indicate that the food product is better positioned to provide for daily human need of nutrients. The logo format for INR is shown below:
To know more on Food Rating Systems and FOPL, refer blog: Food Rating Systems and Front of Pack Labelling | Information Center (foodlabelsolutions.com)
The processed Food Market in India has a 24% growth year on year and is expected to rise further. With urbanization and increased affordability, the food environment in India has changed from traditional home food to more of packed, ready to eat, snacking and junk food varieties. This has increased lifestyle related health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart conditions. It raises serious concerns on the wellbeing of average Indians and future population. FSSAI has recognized the same and hence have introduced the FOPL. This INR system will help in choosing foods carefully and is preventive in nature for foods that are high fat, high sugar and high salt. FOPL will encourage consumers to buy products with more stars. This will not only educate consumers on choosing healthy packaged products but will also encourage Food Manufacturers to develop products that are intended to achieve more Stars.
To know more on Front of pack labelling refer blog: What is Front of Pack Labelling and why is it essential in India? | Information Center (foodlabelsolutions.com)
The introduction of FOPL will not only impact Packaged Food Manufacturers but it will bring in factors of assessment in ingredient sourcing for the Food Service industry. Kitchens at Dine in Hotels, Restaurants and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) are occupied by packed ingredients, including those that are locally sourced ingredients, proprietary ingredients, ingredients manufactured abroad and regular ingredients of daily use. Such ingredients impact the nutrition values of the food items in which they are used and must be validated by sourcing and purchase departments.
Thorough study of food labels on an ongoing basis must be done for validation of following factors;
FOPL declaration as part of regulatory compliance
FOPL adherence for products that are classified as HFSS (high sugar, saturated fats fat and salt)
Adherence to regulations pertaining to allergens and specific ingredients
Other than, date markings, and permissible ingredients.
Menu Labelling Regulations have correlations with packed food regulations. Functions, such as Sourcing, Purchase, Quality Control and Chefs, in particular have the responsibility to ensure food labelling regulations are adhered to in the sourcing of packed ingredients, preparation of food items using them and declaration of nutrition values to customers.
Sourcing and ingredient management will need comprehensive understanding of food regulations and a stricter control on compliances.
To know more on impact of FOPL on Food Ecommerce & Aggregators refer blog: Know how Front of Pack Labelling will impact Food Ecommerce Businesses & Food Aggregators | Information Center (foodlabelsolutions.com)
FOPL on packaged food products allows consumers to view the nutrition profile of a product in an easy and comprehensible manner. This is expected to impact consumers in their eating choices, selection of healthy products and for Food Manufacturers to formulate their products with the objective to achieve more stars. Hotels, Restaurants and QSRs will be impacted by FOPL in functions such as sourcing, quality checks and regulatory compliance. FOPL is intended to ensure that Indians choose and eat healthy.
FSSAI Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020. https://fssai.gov.in/upload/notifications/2020/12/5fd87c6a0f6adGazette_Notification_Labelling_Display_14_12_2020.pdf
Draft Notification Food Safety and Standards (Labelling & Display) Amendment Regulations, 2022 (Front of Pack Nutritional Labelling (FOPNL) and High fat, sugar, salt (HFSS)) Draft_Notification_HFSS_20_09_2022.pdf (fssai.gov.in)
Olivia Crasto (MSc in Food Processing & Preservation)
Olivia is a Learner for Life, Eco enthusiast and loves to experience nature and its beauty