The threat from junk food to India’s health is now recognized at the highest political levels. Two senior ministers have identified it as a top public enemy, the Lok Sabha Speaker has described it as a “serious threat”, and a law is on its way to help you know exactly what is going into the munchies and fast food your child is eating.
The Food Safety and Standards Bill — now in its final stages of preparation by the Health Ministry — will be tabled in parliament’s monsoon session. It will make product information mandatory on all processed food labels.
“Labelling rules have been amended, and the final notification is ready to be put up for public comment. The Act will ensure that all processed foods manufactured and sold in India carries weight and nutritional information including energy value, amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fat, information on vitamins and mineral, and amount and types of fats, especially harmful trans fatty acids that raise cholesterol,” Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told Hindustan Times.
On Friday, Ramadoss was echoed by Sharad Pawar, minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution. At a conference, Pawar said: “Ingredients of food products should be clearly known to consumers along with information regarding quality, quantity and purity. Most importantly, likely health hazards need also to be published.”
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who spoke before Pawar, delivered a similar message. He described junk food as “one of the serious threats looming large over the health of our children.”
Law Minister HR Bhardwaj, whose ministry must clear each proposed law before it reaches parliament, was sitting on the dais as Pawar and Chatterjee spoke.