Contributing towards Scientific and Consumer Friendly Front of Pack Labels (FoPL) for HFSS in all foods in India

Project Background

The burden of NCDs poses a major public health challenge and threat that has potential to alter the social and economic development of India in a negative way. NCD management interventions are essential for achieving the global target of a 25% relative reduction in the risk of premature mortality from NCDs by 2025 and the SDG 3 target of a one-third reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2030.

India is experiencing an exponentially growing burden of NCDs claiming over 6 million lives in a year in 2020. The probability of dying between the ages of 30 and 70, from four major NCDs (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes) for both sexes is as high as 26%. In the year 2011, 53% of all deaths were due to NCDs and this proportion has gone up to 60% in 2014. According to some estimates, there are around 2.8 million cases of cancer, 39 million with chronic respiratory diseases, 64 million with cardiovascular diseases and 69 million people with diabetes in India. In 2016, one in four deaths in India is due to cardiovascular diseases, with heart disease and stroke responsible for 80 per cent of this burden.

Warning labels grab attention of consumers towards their ill-effects, the unhealthy food products sold in market with HFSS and especially oils, fats and foods with trans-fats have gained little attention for their irreversible harmful effects on health leading to NCDs. Studies have highlighted that consumption of trans fats increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

CUTS has been advocating since April 2018 with FSSAI to strengthen the proposed Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018 and notify for implementation. The FSSAI is considering implementing symbol-based front-of-pack nutrition labeling, which they intend to make mandatory. These regulations will form a major stepping stone for India to target HFSS and Trans-fats in packaged food products. Consumers will get an opportunity to select and choose products based on front-of-package information about the amount of Salt, added sugar, saturated fats/trans fats etc.. The advocacy which started in April 2018 will be continued in this phase also and suitable advocacy strategies will be used as per needs.

About the Project

Project Details:

The project aims to have active engagement with FSSAI for advocating scientific and consumer friendly FoPL in all packaged foods and sharing of the critical inputs/insights with GHAI for the effective advocacy strategy development for India. The key strategies would be: participation in the committee meetings, and meetings with the CEO of FSSAI, active involvement with media, industry mapping for the FoPL of MNCs and National level large food industries, engagement with at least two packaged food manufacturer and/or associations at state/city level to spearhead the advocacy for earliest passage of strong and effective FoPL regulation by FSSAI.

To achieve the above-mentioned targets and aims, CUTS team will undertake following activities. Targeting FSSAI’s top level policy makers and officials to advocate for consumer friendly FoPL provisions, participating in the policy related discussions, policy making discourse at national level, and will counter the industry’s strategies, tactics of diluting the FoPL related policy provisions undertaken at FSSAI’s level. Rigorous engagement with select food processing companies located at state or city level will be done to publicly solicit the support for the best practices for FoPL and convince them for consumer-friendly best practices in their processes. The mainstream media will be reached out through writing Op-Ed and media releases and social media as well to amplify the issues, challenges, advocacy efforts, industry’s tactics and consumer friendly policy requirements.

Purpose of the Project:

The purpose of the project is to advocate for an effective, strong, scientific, consumer friendly and evidence based FoPL regulation in all packaged foods in India. Providing critical inputs with GHAI for making effective advocacy strategy formation, participating in the FSSAI FoPL related committee meetings and meetings with the policy makers who are mainly CEO and chairman, FSSAI on time to time.

In the project, mainstream print, electronic media will be a critically throughout the project duration. Importance of social media has increased multifold during the lockdown. Most of the policy makers and FSSAI officials are also officially using social media platforms for community participation. For effective and targeted advocacy, the landscape of industry of food processing has to be mapped to understand the industry in its entirety and rigorous engagements with the key players of industry will be done to form suitable strategies and to counter them.
Objectives of the Project:

  • Advocating for scientific and consumer friendly FoPLs in all packaged foods.
  • Advocating to Food Manufacturers/Industry Associations for soliciting support for the best practices for FoPL publicly.
  • Advocating Media to support the consumer friendly FoPL in India

Media Corner

Useful Information

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Contact Us

CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS CART)
D 218 A, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park
Jaipur 302 016, India
Tel: +91 141 228 2823/228 2482, 513 3259
Fax: +91 141 401 5395