TANSTIA and CAG agree on the need for clear, effective, warning Front of Pack Labelling on packaged foods to contain India’s NCD crisis

The Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) in collaboration with Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industry Association (TANSTIA) organised a virtual meeting titled – ‘Front of Pack Labelling (FoPL) – A discussion with food manufacturers’ – on 8th March 2022.

The meeting was meant to sensitise the food industry about the strong link between non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and FoPL, the importance of warning labels and to gain manufacturers’ perspectives on the whole issue.

The speakers included Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, Cardiac Surgeon, SIMS, Chennai, Dr.A.J. Hemamalini, Professor and Head, Department of Clinical Nutrition, SRFAHS, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research [DU], Chennai and Mr Raja Chidambaram, Advisor of TANSTIA.

Highlighting the importance of FoPL, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, Cardiac Surgeon at SIMS, Chennai said that the labels warning about the presence of high salt, sugar and fat in processed foods will go a long way in reducing cardiovascular diseases and saving lives.

S. Saroja, Executive Director & Director – Consumer Protection, CAG, said that it is important that FSSAI opts for a simple, interpretative, clearly communicative warning FoPL with effective messaging that will cut across barriers like illiteracy, language, etc. “A typical example from our existing system is the vegetarian, non-vegetarian logo which everyone looks for and recognises immediately,” she said.

Dr. A J Hemamalini, Professor and Head, Dept of Clinical Nutrition, SRFAHS, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (DU), Chennai emphasised the need for science- based thresholds for food categories. “Effective warning labels would help to reduce the incidence of NCDs,” she said.

Mr Raja Chidambaram, Advisor – TANSTIA mentioned that processed food products contain
high amounts of salt, sugar and fats which are directly linked to obesity and other non-communicable diseases. “Therefore, there is an urgent need for food processing units to strictly
implement suitable front of pack labelling,” he said.

Representatives from food manufacturing industry, also shared their insights. Ms. Priya, Proprietor of SR Pure Organics and Ms. Anuradha Balaji, Proprietor of ARB farms, explained that strong warning labels will help consumers in making healthy choices when purchasing food products.

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