The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Saturday expressed concern over the FSSAI Regulations proposed for Labeling and Packaging saying it would pose difficulties for the MSME Food Industry catering to the requirements of more than 130 crore countrymen.
The proposed Regulations on Labeling and Packaging under disguise of “in a bid to encourage consumers make healthier food choices”, would make it mandatory to display red colour-coding on front-of-the-pack labels on packaged food products that have high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt content levels. But B C Bhartia, National President of CAIT said if the proposals made in the regulation are implemented most of the Indian Food Products would come under the Red Category and the industry will die down. The New Labelling and Display regulations are ready for draft notification and the FSSAI is in the process of comprehensive revision of Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 with the objective of having three different regulations dealing separately to packaging, labelling and Advertisement and claims requirements.
However, according to Bhartia no one has been able to understand the necessity of bringing such an adverse notification which will kill the Indian Food Industry. It is a matter of anxiety if such regulations are being forced on India by certain lobbyist and activist NGOs to disturb and damage the Indian industry, he said adding, “We can easily understand the far reaching implications this will have on food processing, employment, farmer economy and GDP. Food Industry has a large multiple effect and finally the common man will suffer.” The idea of putting food products into colour coded categories appears to be totally unscientific and will be confusing to the consumer when a major percentage of food products will appears to be Red on the shelf, CAIT said in a statement issued here.
It is not understandable how a pre-fixed calorie value can be used to classify the products. In such a vast country like India how can anybody fix a single calorie value suitable for every person. Food intake and calorie consumption varies with age, lifestyle, climate, geography, working systems, materials available, food practices established from centuries etc. Moreover such a regulation will be discriminatory from region to region and with population demographics, CAIT added . It will also be most unfair for the more than 30 lakh micro, small and medium units in the country who will not be able to mange the complicated calculations for categorization of products but the a few dozen large / MNC Companies will be able to do so.
If the MSME food industry dies down there will be massive unemployment and it will also have an adverse impact on the farmer. It is a matter of great worry that the Regulations are not scientific and are misguiding. “Further, what will happen to huge global market of Indian Food Products. Are we ready to damaged our export performance. It is also surprising to thrust such a Regulations when a vast population in the country, particularly in the rural areas, are suffering from malnutrition. Naturally the consumer will suffer enormously for not getting the range of food products consumed by them. With most of the items marked Red in the market shelf, the house lady will be utterly confused what to feed to the family. This will hugely misguide her and develop a misconception in their mind about packaged food which is much more healthy than the food sold lose. Loose food continues to be sold as it is but packed good item will come under unwanted scanner,” Bhartia highlighted.
CAIT said if the Government is serious to develop food industry and MSME in the country it is necessary to withdraw such a draconian regulation.