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May, 08 2018

FSSAI Proposes GMO Labelling on all packaged products

The country’s food regulator also suggests mandatory declaration by packaged food manufacturers about nutritional information such as calories, total fat, trans fat, sugar and salt per serve on the front of the pack.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed to introduce GMO labeling for the first time revealing the presence of genetically modified (GM) ingredients clearly state it on their labels.

The country’s food regulator also suggests mandatory declaration by packaged food manufacturers about nutritional information such as calories, total fat, trans fat, sugar and salt per serve on the front of the pack. Since the country has no provision for GM labeling in its regulatory mechanism currently, consumers are clueless whether packaged food items they buy have genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

The FSSAI had last month released a 42-page draft notice — Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018 — making it mandatory to label such foodstuffs as “contains GMO/Ingredients derived from GMO” if such items contain 5% or more GE ingredients.

Pitching for a colour code, the draft proposes that the high fat, sugar, and salt will be colored ‘red’ in case the value of energy from total sugar is more than 10% of the total energy provided by the 100 gram or 100 ml of the product. It has similar provisions for trans-fat and sodium content.

Draft says that the nutritional information may additionally be provided in the form of a barcode. The color coding will make it easier for consumers to know about the nutritional value of food products.

The issue of labeling of food products having GM ingredients has, however, drawn flak from certain quarters.

Sridhar Radhakrishnan, co-convener of the Coalition for a GM-Free India, who sent the group’s objections on the draft to the FSSAI told TOI that the labelling move will, in fact, allow the GM foods to enter food supply chain when it is anyway illegal to sell GM foods in India currently. “We need preventive action at this juncture rather than regulatory action”, he said.

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