In a positive sign, India is reportedly working towards making food labeling mandatory. The step may make companies that manufacture packaged food describe the nutrition data with greater clarity and less ambiguity. This in turn may help millions of Indians who suffer from obesity.
India is a country of more than a billion people out of which about 135 million suffer from obesity.
While there is not a concrete announcement from the Indian government on this yet, based on international norms, the government has an option of opting for a star system in which healthier foods will get more stars. Another option is to make use of a color scheme with some colours indicating healthier foods while others signaling the ‘not-so-healthy’ aspect of a particular packaged food product.
When such a decision comes into effect, brands may find it tough to hide information about their products possibly having too much sugar or too much salt and so on. It may also make it hard for them to hide true information about ingredients by making use of convoluted or cryptic wording on the packages.
Reports suggest that Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has been put in charge of the plan.
India will not be the first country making such rules stricter. At least seven countries have announced plans to have food labels on products. Chile, Israel, Peru, Uruguay and Mexico are some of them.
Italy has what is called a ‘traffic light approach’. Food items are color coded. Food with a green packaging is healthy and that in red packaging is deemed unhealthy.
In a country like India which has a ‘sweet tooth’, sweets or Mithai is consumed during almost every festival. Will just labeling the food product will be enough to deter the average Indian buyer? This may surely be a challenge.