Be Punchy On Munchy – On Front of Packet Labelling (FOPL)

Source: The post is based on an article “Be Punchy On Munchy” published in The Times of India on 25th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Food Processing

Relevance: benefits and concerns associated with Front of Packet Labelling

News: Front of Packet Labelling (FOPL) will become mandatory for the Indian snack industry after four years by FSSAI.

What is FOPL?

FOPL is a warning given to consumers to indicate which products contain excessive amounts of sugars, total fats, saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium.

What will be the benefits of FOPL?

It will inform consumers about the unhealthy ingredients involved in the snacks as snacks are mostly the causes of various diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.

This will force the industry to follow to safer levels of sugar, salt and fat content. Further, FSSAI is opting for star rating – five stars for the healthiest food and half a star for the unhealthiest.

However, higher ratings would not be beneficial if sugar, salt or fat content are also high with healthy products.

What are the concerns?

Consumers would have benefitted from knowing Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) from a particular food but FSSAI has kept it optional. RDA refers to the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements.

Further, RDA claims of the packaged industry needs rigorous laboratory testing but FSSAI’s baseline reference value for food risk factors is at 21 gms per 100 gms serving of sugar in solid foods.

It is very high considering WHO recommendation of keeping daily sugar intake to below 25 gms ideally.

What can be the course of action?

Products should be taxed according to the contents of the sugar, salt and fat they have.

For example, products with higher content should be taxed higher while those having low content should be taxed lower. This will help in discouraging junk foods.

Kerala has already come up with a “fat tax” on burgers and pizzas in 2016. Further, FOPL and regular tax hikes on cigarettes have helped disencentivise smoking.

Therefore, the government should consider putting tax like these by keeping concerns of its citizens first.

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