Food safety regulator plans new label for healthy snacks
The idea is to promote and brand healthier variants of sweets and namkeens with low fat, salt and sugar, says FSSAI.The food regulator and food manufacturers will work towards developing certain thresholds for developing such food itemsUpdated: Feb 13, 2020 19:39 IST
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is laying out certain parameters for the country’s huge packaged sweets (mithai) and namkeen market, a move that will see the makers of such packaged food reduce usage of sugar, fat, salt, as well as ensure better use of raw materials in their products.
On Tuesday, members of Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers met with the FSSAI that saw homegrown snacking companies such as Haldiram’s, Bikanervala, and Das Pendawala discuss ways to ensure that a threshold is set for such branded and packaged food items, especially those that qualify as high in fat, sugar, and salts or HFSS category of foods.
“The idea is to promote and brand healthier variants (of sweets and namkeens) with low fat, salt and sugar,” FSSAI said in a tweet on Tuesday.
The food regulator and food manufacturers will work towards developing certain thresholds for developing such food items. These include variants that are low on sugar, salt, have no trans-fat, use better quality cooking oil, are free of preservatives, and ensure that raw materials such as khoya, and milk, used in their products are of good quality.
Once the thresholds are set, the FSSAI will allow manufacturers to use a label or a logo on their products that will communicate these differentiated food items to consumers. “Four to five such parameters will be set for manufacturers to ensure they qualify for the labelling,” said a person familiar with the plans of the regulator. Manufacturers who meet the standards will be allowed to use “Same Taste, Better Health” logo, the person cited above said. The logo is not mandatory but voluntary.
Sweet and namkeen manufacturers have been asked to lay out a list of their top food items where such changes can be implemented without necessarily changing the taste of such food items.
“We were called by the FSSAI to join hands with them to create a common identity for Indian traditional sweets, and namkeens. In the past, there have been no such standards for the industry—we have been following the general food safety standards much like everyone else,” said Firoz H. Naqvi, managing director, Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers (FSNM). The FSNM represents interests of over 400 manufacturers of Indian sweets and namkeens from markets such as Bikaner, Indore, among others.
“We want to promote Indian sweets and namkeen globally as healthy food and snacks and create our own identity,” he added. Naqvi said that benchmarking such Indian snacks—often considered fatty and unhealthy—will help manufacturers compete with multinational companies, and even home-grown players that sell salted chips, and cookies.
India’s savoury snacks market is estimated at Rs 33,500 crore according to research firm Euromonitor. Small, and large homegrown players that sell traditional namkeen occupy a large chunk of India’s snacking market. Mithai, on the other hand, is a quintessential sweet food consumed by millions across the country especially on festive occasions, weddings, and celebrations.
Over the next few weeks, manufacturers of such foods will work with researchers, food scientists and the FSSAI to identify foods where salt, and sugar content can be reduced.
FSSAI has been working actively with food manufacturers and regulatory bodies to overhaul food labelling regulations to ensure more transparency on what Indians consume.