FSSAI should focus on enforcement, not on trans-fat free logo: Expert

FnBnews, March 29, 2022

George Cheriyan, a member of Food Authority (FSSAI) as a special invitee, and director, CUTS International, a consumer rights organisation, has reacted sharply to an advice by the FSSAI to food businesses to get ‘trans-fat free logo’ in case their product contains no more than 0.2% per 100 mg trans-fat. He stated that there were already regulations limiting the trans fats in food products and the food authority needed to focus on enforcement. He also asked the Food Authority to publish its enforcement data related to compliance by the food businesses, of the various regulations related to trans fats.

He opined, “This requirement of trans fat free logo sounds absurd at this juncture because already the mandatory regulation is there in place for all FBOs. As per the law, trans fat is banned in all foods, oils and fats with effect from Jan. 1, 2022 in India. It is a folly to ask FBOs to display Trans-fat Free Logo/Label on any food product/oil. In fact now it is the responsibility of FSSAI and the State Food Safety Commissioners to ensure 100 per cent compliance. By asking FBOs to display trans-fat free logo, FSSAI is accepting its failure in ensuring 100 per cent compliance.”

The FSSAI had earlier passed a regulation that set a trans-fat limit of 10 per cent in oils and fats in 2010, which was further reduced to five per cent in 2015. And in December 2018, FSSAI proposed to lower the TFA limit to two per cent by January 2022, a year ahead of the global target.

He added that to encourage early voluntary adoption by interested businesses and to provide them a niche market in September, 2019, FSSAI introduced the ‘Trans Fat Free’ logo, accelerating the ‘Eat Right India’ movement.

This logo proved relevant during that time until the mandatory requirement of two per cent came into effect from January 2022. Also, Food Safety and Standards (Safe food and balanced diets for children in school) Regulations, 2020, came into effect from July 1, 2021, that banned food products to be sold in school premises that are high in saturated fat/trans fats or added sugar or sodium. Then the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Tenth Amendment Regulations, 2020, were notified, limiting not more than three per cent in all fats and oils by January 2021 and not more than 2 per cent by January 2022.

And there came a regulation Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011, amendment notified by FSSAI on February 2021, which mandated that food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans fatty acids more than 2 per cent by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from January 1, 2022.

“So instead of advocating for a trans-fat free logo among the industries, FSSAI should come out with its findings on compliance level and penalise those that have failed to meet the regulatory requirements,” said Cheriyan.

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