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In April, food safety regulator FSSAI had come out with the draft of Food Safety and Standards (Labeling and Display) Regulations, 2018 that propose mandatory red-label marking on such packaged food products.
“Our pre-draft was ready and sent to the Health Ministry. Since there were concerns expressed by some stakeholders, we have kept it on hold for time being and a group of experts from health and nutrition background has been set up to look into the issue of labeling once again,” Agarwal said.
He was addressing a national consultation on the draft regulation organised by the CUTS International.
The expert panel will be headed by B Sesikeran, former director of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) as also the current director Hemalatha, besides doctor Nikhil Tandon, he said.
The labeling regulations have remained the major contentious issue in the food industry which sees it as an impediment to their sales.
Agarwal said the panel would study in detail the concerns of the industry and make recommendations.
“May be a little bit of tweaking (to the draft regulations) is required. We are open to it without compromising the basic directions of the labeling regulations,” Agarwal said.
Pitching for bringing in strong labeling norms at the earliest, the FSSAI CEO said it was difficult to ask consumers to change their eating habits as some eat mindlessly, while some cannot differentiate between healthy and unhealthy food products.
“In this situation, I feel we can make a dent if we can address it at the supply side by asking companies to adhere to the labeling norms,” he added.
Agarwal also made it clear that Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will go ahead with the labeling norms even if there is no full consensus on the matter after the panel’s suggestions.