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Listing of nutritional value on food packs to become mandatory

23-August-2005
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Listing of nutritional value on food packs to become mandatory

Do you know the amount of carbohydrates in a pack of potato chips? Or the proteins present in one serving of ready-to-eat pasta. Such information will now have to be available to the consumer soon.

The Health Ministry is planning to make it compulsory for food companies to list out the nutritional value of the product on the pack. This is likely to be part of the labelling requirements for food products.

According to a senior Health Ministry official, "The Central Committee on Food Standards (CCFS) has recommended labelling of nutritional value on package of food products and the Ministry is considering the proposal. Under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, a draft notification will be shortly issued seeking views from the public."

Officials said that this initiative is part of the Government's decision to align the Indian norms with global standards.

"Internationally, it is mandatory for food companies to list out the nutritional values and we want to introduce the same here. This will also improve consumer safety and they would be able to make an informed choice."

The Health Ministry had about two years ago made it mandatory for food companies to have green and brown dots on packs to distinguish vegetarian products from non-vegetarian.

At present, only packages of certain food products, especially those selling on the health plank such as some kinds of biscuits, yoghurt and potato chips carry information on nutritional value. Others used this information as a marketing ploy to differentiate their brands. According to analysts tracking the sector, "Some companies that are exporting products display nutritional details on the packs. If this norm becomes mandatory, it would not be very difficult for the large Indian and multinational companies to change the packaging."

However, smaller companies may have to make some additional investments. "Also, company manufacturing high-calorie products with high levels of fats and carbohydrates like butter, ghee, ice-creams and ready-to-eat snacks may be a little reluctant," said an analyst.

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