Jaipur, May 2, 2022
Indian Consumer Organizations opposed the Health Star Rating and demanded for immediate notification of effective warning labels on Packaged Foods, in an unanimously passed resolution in the Annual National Consumer Convention of the Consumer Coordination Council (CCC) of India held on April 30, 2022 in Jaipur, Rajasthan. CCC is the apex association of all the consumer organisations of India. In the meeting, representatives of around 100 consumer organisations from 15 states, have unanimously opposed the move of ‘Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI)’, Govt. of India to introduce Health Star Rating (HSR) for packaged food products as recommended by a business school. All the consumer organisations present, strongly felt that such HSR system can easily be manipulated by the food manufacturing and processing industry there the objective of consumer health can never be achieved by this. They also expressed that whichever county including Australia, adopted the HSR model, have not achieved the desire outcome because of food Industry’.
George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS International and a member of the Food Authority (FSSAI) said that in India the voluntary standards are never implemented and enforced effectively. Therefore, he strongly advocated for a mandatory warning label, which are very easy to understand even by the illiterate common consumers sitting in the rural areas.
The resolution included the points mentioned as under.
- Adopt interpretive ‘high in’ style warning labels which is mandatory rather than being voluntary and it has been established as the most reliable FoPL format that improves public health and aids all consumers (regardless of their age, literacy proficiency or socio-economic strata) to make healthier choices.
- To reduce the risk for diet-related non-communicable diseases, consider a FoPL format that is based on a nutrient profile model that establishes scientific cut-offs/thresholds for critical nutrients of public health concern. Consider WHO SEARO as a model that is most relevant for India.
- We the consumer organisations feel, the industry can easily manipulate the HSR, as food products high in sugar or fat that deserve a low rating (1 star) could get a moderate rating (3 or even 4 stars) by adding some positive nutrients as well such as fibre, protein and vitamins to cancel out the negative impact of salt, sugar and saturated fat.
Hence, all the consumer bodies of India, in united voice, demanded to the FSSAI, for passing a notification of the mandatory warning label as the FoPL format, at the earliest.
For more information, please contact
Madhu Sudan Sharma, Senior Program Officer, CUTS International. firstname.lastname@example.org ; 9057520313