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  • 04 January, 2021

  • 19 Min Read

FSSAI and Nutrition

FSSAI and Nutrition

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the number of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissible limit of 5% through an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations.
  • The FSSAI notified the amendment on December 29, more than a year after it issued a draft on the subject for consultation with stakeholders.
  • The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydrogenated oils), margarine, bakery shortenings and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
  • Transfats are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease.
  • According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of the intake of industrially produced trans fatty acids.
  • The WHO has also called for the global elimination of transfats by 2023.
  • “The FSSAI rule comes at the time of a pandemic where the burden of non-communicable diseases has risen. Cardiovascular diseases, along with diabetes, are proving fatal for COVID-19 patients,” says Ashim Sanyal, chief operating officer of Consumer VOICE, adding that the regulation must not be restricted to oils and fats, but must apply to all foods. “It is hoped that the FSSAI will address this as well before January 2022 to eliminate chemical trans fatty acids from the Indian platter.”
  • While the regulation comes into effect immediately, industry players were made to take a pledge back in 2018 that they would comply with the WHO’s call for action to reduce TFA by 3% by 2021 allowing them three years to comply with the latest norm.
  • It was in 2011 that India first passed a regulation that set a TFA limit of 10% in oils and fats, which was further reduced to 5% in 2015.

About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • FSSAI has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is the administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI. Chairperson is appointed by Govt of India and is the rank of Secretary. But FSSAI is not under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it has an independent charge. Pawan Kumar Agrawal is the Chairperson.
  • FSSAI to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
  • Functions of FSSAI under FSS Act, 2006
    1. Framing of Regulations: to lay down the Standards and guidelines in relation to articles of food.
    2. Laying down mechanisms and guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies, laboratories.
    3. Provide scientific advice and technical support to Center and State.
    4. Collect and collate data regarding food consumption. Promote general awareness.
    5. Create an information network across India so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc. receive credible information.
    6. Provide training programmes, and contribute to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
  • Highlights of FSS Rules, 2011
    1. It provides for the Food Safety Appellate Tribunal for adjudication of food safety cases.
    2. It covers licensing and registration, Packaging and Labelling of Food Businesses, Food Product Standards and Food Additives Regulation.
    3. It prohibits and restricts on sale or approval of Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients (harmful).
    4. It also provides rules on Organic Food and regulates Food advertising.

Recent Initiatives of FSSAI

Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and Healthy Diets for School Children) Regulations, 2019

  1. Malnourishment accounts for ~ 7 lakh deaths (68%) in children under 5 years in 2017.
  2. It proposed ban on sale, ads of junk foods in schools.
  3. HFSS foods (High in Fats, Salts and Sugar) cannot be sold to children in school canteens, mess premises, hostel kitchens or within 50 m of the school campus.
  4. Schools should adopt a comprehensive programme for promoting healthy diets among children.
  5. Focus on “Eat Right School” focusing on local and seasonal food and no food wastage.
  6. Encourage children to have a balanced diet as per National Institute of Nutrition guidelines.
  7. Food companies are prohibited to use their logos, brand names and product names on books and other educational material, as well as on school property like buildings, buses and fields.
  8. FSSAI recommends the use of a combination of whole grains, milk, eggs, and millet; it also listed a set of guidelines for the selection of food products in schools.
  9. It is a combination of healthy food and regular physical activity that will go a long way in bringing up healthier children.
  10. Challenge would be in enforcement. The onus of healthy eating should come from home and then school.

National Milk Sample Safety Quality Survey by FSSAI

  • 37.7% of processed milk samples unsafe from > 1100 cities/ towns. It finds most adulteration in Telangana followed by MP and Kerala.
  • Contaminants like Aflatoxin M1, antibiotics and pesticides were found. About Aflatoxin M1
  • Aflatoxin comes in the milk through feed and fodder that are currently not regulated in India and it is for the 1st time that such a detailed survey of Aflatoxin in milk has been done in India.
  • Aflatoxin M1 was more widely present in processed milk samples than in raw milk. Aflatoxin M1 is possibly carcinogenic to humans.
  • Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Kerala were top 3 states where Aflatoxin residue was found the most.
  • It is a public health concern, especially in infants and young children. Hence focus on proper storage of food harvest in warm and humid conditions and on facilities to test for aflatoxin M1.
  • India is the World’s largest producer of milk. The total production in 2017-18 was 176.35 million tonnes.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

  • Center for Science and Environment (CSE) tested salt, fat, trans-fat and carbohydrates in junk foods.
  • The aim was to find out the level of these products in actual servings/ packets of these foods.
  • To calculate how unsafe the foods tested were CSE relied on RDA - a daily ceiling on the amount of salt, fat, carbs and transfats.
  • RDA is based on scientific consensus agreed upon by WHO and the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad.
  • It says that ideally, an adult should consume maximum of 5 gm salt, 60 gm fat, 300 gm carbs and 2.2 gm transfat. A snack should ideally have < 0.5 gm of salt and 6 gm of fat.
  • CSE said all the popular snacks and fast foods should display a 'Red Octagon' warning symbol used in Chile and Peru.
  • FSSAI set up a committee in 2013. It recommended that a packet should have clear information on calories, sugar, fat, saturated fats and salt.
  • In 2018, FSS (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018 recommended that salt must be declared as sodium chloride and that those ingredients which breached the RDA should be marked in 'red'.
  • B. Sesikeran Committee recommendations led to a new draft FSS Regulations, 2019 which replaced Sodium Chloride with salt, total fat with saturated fat and total sugar with added sugar. CSE says this and dilutes the information on health harm posed by packaged foods.
  • Industry fears that the norms are unscientific and that instead they should be advised on a healthy diet, exercise and consuming appropriate amount of food.
  • To brand packaged food in different colours sends out the message that they are 'toxic' and this would be counterproductive to the larger aim of having a regulated but viable packaged food industry and people being educated about their food choices.
  • In Chile, they have Black Hexagon and in Europe, some have front-of-pack labelling. CSE says proposed labelling regulations and too many colour codes will confuse people, especially because India has a vast non-English speaking population.

Other initiatives

  • FSSAI has operationalized regulations on fortification of food articles and also introduces the + F Logo for fortified foods (used in MDM and ICDS schemes).
  • It has undertaken the 'Safe and Nutritious Food (SNF)' initiative to promote awareness of consumption of safe and nutritious food.
  • FSSAI has tied up with Amazon's Alexa to tell the kids and youth to 'eat right'.
  • FSSAI asks the industry to reduce the level of unsafe food to < 1% over next 4 years.

Source: TH


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