Food Safety and Standards | Draft Labelling Regulations
We wish to inform you that the Government has recently notified the draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2019 (‘Labelling Regulations’) which proposes to revise labelling norms to give higher protection to interests of consumers. This update intends to provide a glimpse of the key features of the proposed Labelling Regulations. The Regulations, once approved, shall be implemented in a phased manner from its date of implementation.
The key features of the proposed regulations in contrast with the old labelling regulations [Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011] are as follows:
Applicability: Extension of labelling requirements (such as name, net quantity, FSSAI logo and license number etc.) to containers not intended for retail sale.
Type of packages: Introduction of concept of ‘assorted pack’ (a retail pack with multiple units of different pre-packaged commodities) and ‘multi-unit package’ (a package containing two or more individually packaged or labelled units of the same food article of identical net quantity). The labelling requirements on such packages primarily mandate declaration of requisite information on the outer package as well. The concept of ‘wholesale package’ has now been omitted from the Labelling Regulations.
- HFSS Food: Introduction of concept of high fat, sugar, salt (‘HFSS’) food. A HFSS food is defined as a processed food product which has high levels of saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium. As per the Labelling Regulations, the blocks of nutrients for HFSS foods shall be coloured ‘red’ in the following scenarios:
- If the energy from added sugars is more than 10 percent of the total energy provided by 100 g / 100 ml of the product; or,
- If the energy from trans-fat is more than 1 percent of the total energy provided by 100 g / 100 ml of the product; or,
- If saturated fat / sodium content provided by 100 g / 100 ml of the product is more than specified threshold value.
- Non-vegetarian food: The definition of ‘non-vegetarian food’ specifically includes insects and excludes honey / bee’s wax / carnauba wax / shellac wax from its purview.
- Package / container: Introduction of definition of ‘Package / container’ which includes pre-packed boxes, bottle, casket, tin, barrel etc. and similar things under its purview.
- RDA: Introduction of concept of Recommendary Dietary Allowances (‘RDA’) which provides for the amounts of dietary energy and nutrients considered sufficient (to be adopted from ICMR Dietary Guidelines for Indians and Codex / WHO guidelines) for maintaining good health. All food packages shall contain information on its per serve contribution of energy, saturated fat etc. to RDA.
- Name of food: The name of food shall be as follows:
- Where a food is specified by certain essential composition under the food regulations that establishes its identity, the name provided therein.
- In other cases, either a common or usual name or an accompanying description of true nature of food. The name may additionally have a ‘coined’, ‘fanciful’ ‘brand’ or ‘tradename.’
- Nutritional information: A mechanism for calculation of energy, protein etc. has been provided. Further, declaration of nutritional information in the form of barcode etc. is also permissible.
- Sign of vegetarian food: Alteration in the sign of vegetarian food ( ) along with corresponding size requirements have been added in the Labelling Regulations.
- Sign on package of food material: Use of cross sign ( ) on every package of food which is not meant for human consumption.
- Food Additives: Food Additives shall be declared together with specific name or recognized International Numbering System as specified. The common name (in case of artificial flavouring substances) and the class name (in case of natural flavouring substances) shall be declared in the list of ingredients.
- Name and address: The name and complete address of the brand owner and the license number of manufacturer / packer / bottlers, if located at different places, shall be declared on label. The address shall be preceded by a qualification such as ‘Manufactured by’, ‘Mfd by’ etc.
- Logos: Specific regulation and requirements for use of logo in case fortified food and organic food has been introduced.
- Requirements under Legal Metrology: Net Quantity, Retail Sale Price and Consumer Care details on a food package shall be as per the requirements of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.
- The following Schedules have been added to the new Labelling Regulations:
- Schedule I – Specifies the nutrient threshold for food categories
- Schedule II – Specifies food categories on which colour coding is not required
- Schedule III – Manner and format of logo for organic and fortified foods
- Schedule IV – Mandatory declarations on labels, foods displayed for immediate consumption, statutory warnings, booklets / handouts to be printed for specified ingredients / additives
- Food Additives meant for retail sale to conform to the mandatory requirements of the Labelling Regulations along with additional information such as name as per specified standards, name of flavourings etc. For Food Additives, the same should conform to the labelling requirements of non-retail containers.
- New regulation for display of information in food service establishment which inter alia includes display of following information:
- Calorific value against food items
- Information relating to allergens
- Logo for vegetarian / non-vegetarian food
- Specific exemption to event caterers, self-service condiments, special-order items etc.
- Nutritional information / information relating to organic food to consumers in the form of booklets / handouts / website on request
- Liability of e-commerce operators: Liability of e-commerce operators to display mandatory labelling requirements on their websites.
NITYA Comments: The idea behind introduction of the new Labelling Regulations is to enable a consumer to know more about the composition of food products to make an informed and healthy choice. However, practically the industry is likely to have certain issues in implementing such Regulations due to commercial reasons. The draft Regulations are open for comments for a period of 30 days. With such stringent regulations being introduced for labelling vis-à-vis food products, it becomes important for food businesses to take note of the same and file due representations before the concerned authorities in the interim. With consumer protection laws gaining momentum, the concerned authorities are expected to be stringent in their approach in the coming times. Thus, it becomes essential for businesses to be prepared and fully compliant with the incoming regulations of labelling.