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Activists urge govt to abandon health star ratings in favour of strict FoPL regulations

The Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) have brought in a signature campaign with the support of other organisations and members of civil society, urging the government to impose strict front-of-pack labelling (FoPL) regulations for processed food.

CAG said that processed food packets should carry clear and simple warning labels indicating the presence of high salt, sugar, and fat. The labelling should be done in such a way that it will cut across the barrier of multiple languages and be easily understood by even those who cannot read.

The organisation pointed out that the draft FoPL regulations formulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2018 had been shelved and discussions on them resumed only last year. Despite the fact that the FSSAI was inclined toward the idea of health star rating (HSR) design rather than labels with appropriate information, it did not produce the expected results in countries that adopted it, such as Australia and New Zealand.

UNICEF said warning labels can play an important role in tackling the burden of non-communicable diseases. Warning labels would definitely help consumers make informed decisions. If implemented, the regulations on FoPL can help the food industry better understand consumer preferences and offer products accordingly.

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