India to Finalize New Food Labeling Regulation

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July 8, 2019 - Chanyanis Utiskul

India is preparing to finalize its new food labeling regulation. On 25 June 2019, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued the press release providing an update to the new food labeling regulation, the Draft Food Safety and Standards (Labeling and Display) Regulations, 2018.

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India has been in the process of implementing an overhaul of its food labeling regulatory scheme for some time. In April 2018, FSSAI published and called for public consultation on the Draft Food Safety and Standards (Labeling and Display) Regulations, 2018. Since then, the regulation has remained in the draft stage waiting to be finalized.

In the latest June 2019 statement, FSSAI addressed the country’s need to put the labeling regulation in place to protect consumers and stated that the new labeling and display regulation is “ready for draft notification.” Once finalized, the regulation will replace the Food Safety and Standard (Packaging and Labelling) Regulation 2011 currently in force.

The 42-page regulation contains comprehensive requirements on labeling of prepackaged food. It includes specific requirements regarding the declaration of nutritional information, food ingredients and food additive labeling. Key requirements can be found under Chapter 2 of the regulation. Among other measures, the draft proposes to require a mandatory declaration for products with high levels of fat, sugar and salt. This rule would compel manufacturers of pre-packaged products in which the amount of trans-fat, sugar or sodium exceeds the specified threshold values to include a declaration to that effect on the front of the package. The industry has objected to this “front-of-the-pack labeling” rule as impractical, but the FSSAI has insisted it is needed to “enable the consumers to know more about the composition of food products so that they can make informed choices.” The regulator also stated that it expects to implement these measures over a three-year phase-out period.

While certain foods are exempt, broadly speaking pre-packaged foods must be labeled with a logo indicating whether they are vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as well as the name of food, list of ingredients, nutritional information, food additive information, date marking, country of origin, etc.

Other key features of the proposed regulation are:

  • Declaration of food allergen information
  • Marking information on the manufacture and expiry date. The regulation will simplify the rules by requiring these date markings to be shown in one place (instead of two different places as is the current industry practice)
  • Food allergen labeling: A new provision will be added to allow the use of standardized precautionary and safety symbols.

Relevant Documents:

Business Impact

The agency stated in the press release that, “(FSSAI) has invited suggestions and objection from stakeholders within 30 days from the publication of the draft regulation.” However, there is no actual document issued to date. It is expected that the draft regulations should be published soon. In the meantime, manufacturers and importers of food and beverage products and ingredients are encouraged to review the 2018 draft regulation to prepare for any changes.

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