Bid to make it easier to spot expiry dates

The regulations stipulate the display of a red colour code on front-of-the-pack labels of products that have high fat, sugar or salt levels

  • Published 28.06.19, 7:42 AM
  • Updated 28.06.19, 7:42 AM
  • a min read
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Packaged food manufacturers will also need to declare nutritional information such as calories, saturated fat, transfat, added sugar and sodium per serve on the front of the pack under the new regulations, the FSSAI has said. Not all packaged products now adhere to these regulations. (Representative image: Shutterstock)

India’s food safety regulator has proposed new labelling and display guidelines that will require the dates of manufacture and the dates of expiry to appear next to each other on packaged food products.

The proposal from the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) seeks to eliminate the practice of printing manufacturing dates and expiry or “best-before” dates at different places on the pack labels, which makes it difficult for the consumers to see both at a single glance.

On myriad packaged food products now sold in India — from jam, tomato ketchup, tea and coffee to oats and soft drinks — the manufacturing and best-before dates appear at different places.

The proposal is part of what FSSAI officials have described as a revised set of labelling and display rules that will replace regulations issued in 2011 and are intended to “encourage consumers to make healthier food choices”.

The regulations, which have been released for comments from the public and stakeholders within 30 days, also stipulate the display of a red colour code on front-of-the-pack labels of products that have high fat, sugar or salt levels.

Public health specialists have long been concerned about the role of poor labelling in consumers buying food products while being unaware of their content and health risks. The average salt consumption is high in India because of food products like papad, pickles and other such condiments.

Packaged food manufacturers will also need to declare nutritional information such as calories, saturated fat, transfat, added sugar and sodium per serve on the front of the pack under the new regulations, the FSSAI has said. Not all packaged products now adhere to these regulations.

The rules will also make it mandatory for companies to distinguish vegetarian and non-vegetarian products and indicate the presence of possible allergens. Allergen labels are already mandatory in many countries.

The new logo for vegetarian food will be a green fully coloured triangle inside a square with a green outline.

The new rules will also require every food package not intended for human consumption to bear a symbol to distinguish it from those meant for humans.