February 27, 2023
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) introduced the Front of Pack Labelling (FOPL) draft regulation on 20th September 2022. The regulation is aimed at strengthening the food labelling ecosystem in India and offering quick guidance to consumers on the nutrition profile of packaged foods. The Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) model will assign stars on the front panel of the pack to denote the healthiness of the product. In this article, we explore the need and importance of FOPL compliance for the Horeca industry in India.
FOPL is a form of supplementary nutrition information that presents simplified nutrition information on the front-of-pack of pre-packaged foods. It includes 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. The INR system in India rates products on nutrition parameters and assigns stars from ½ star (least healthy) to 5 stars (healthiest).
The processed food market in India has a 24% growth year on year and is expected to rise further. With increased urbanization and affordability, the food environment in India has shifted towards more packed, ready-to-eat, snacking, and fast-food varieties. This shift has led to an increase in lifestyle-related health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions. To address this, FSSAI introduced FOPL to help consumers make informed and healthier purchases. The INR system encourages consumers to choose products with more stars, educating them on healthy packaged products and encouraging food manufacturers to develop healthier products.
The introduction of FOPL will not only impact packaged food manufacturers but will also bring in assessment factors for ingredient sourcing in the food service industry. Kitchens at HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants, Catering Services), along with Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), Dark Kitchens, and other food service establishments use packed Horeca ingredients, which include locally sourced, proprietary, imported ingredients and other ingredients of daily use in their recipes. Such ingredients impact the nutrition values of the food items, which must be validated by sourcing and purchase departments.
Thorough study of FOPL will be required on an ongoing basis for validation of following factors:
FOPL declaration as part of regulatory compliance
FOPL adherence for products that are classified as HFSS (high fat, sugar and salt)
Adherence to regulations pertaining to allergens and specific ingredients
Date markings, and permissible ingredients
Menu Labelling Regulations have correlations with Packed Food Labelling 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.
FOPL on packaged food products will allow consumers in B2C and B2B environments to view the nutrition profile of a product in an easy and comprehensible manner, impacting healthier eating choices through selection of products, and encouraging food manufacturers to develop healthier products. Hotels, restaurants, and QSRs will be impacted by FOPL compliance in functions such as sourcing, quality checks, and regulatory compliance. FOPL is intended to ensure that Indians choose and eat healthy, promoting overall well-being.
Established in 2018 and based in Mumbai, LabelBlind® specialises in the area of Digitising Food Labelling and Regulatory Compliance. FoLSol® by LabelBlind® presents India’s 1st Digital Food Labelling Solution. The SaaS platform supports Food Businesses to be Labelling Compliant and Build Consumer Trust. FoLSol® by LabelBlind® is designed to strengthen the food labelling ecosystem across a wide spectrum of services including, Packed Food Labelling, Menu Labelling, Exports Labelling, Nutraceuticals and Food Supplements Labelling and Labelling for Ecommerce players. FoLSol® Digital Food Labelling Solution is fast, accurate, and cost effective. The company is ISO9001 certified in its processes.
Rashida Vapiwala (Founder at LabelBlind®, Food Label Specialist, Ph.D (Food Science and Nutrition))
Rashida is passionate about solving problems for the food industry using technology. She loves creating tech-led solutions in the space of Nutrition.