India Food Health Rating System Draws Criticism

June 15, 2022
India is poised to initiate a front-of-package health rating system for food and beverage products.

India is poised to initiate a front-of-package health rating system for food and beverage products, but it’s already being criticized by some authorities as insufficient.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has announced plans to implement a rating system that awards stars to food products based on their overall healthiness. The ratings will start to come out about a year from now, and companies will be asked to display them voluntarily, but the system is likely to become mandatory in 2027, according to a report by medical news service BMJ.com. If the policy goes through, India will become the third nation, after Israel and Chile, to mandate nutritional information on the front of food product packaging.

The Indian system would take into account a product’s balance of “positive” nutrients like fiber and protein against “negative” ones like fat, sugar and sodium. However, some health experts are calling this insufficient and even a possible cover for unhealthy products. Their reasoning is that an overload of an unhealthy component like sugar can’t be undone or compensated for by the presence of healthier ones.

A proper rating system would give unequivocal warnings about unhealthy components, K. Srinath Reddy, chairman of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), said at a press conference. “This educational component of a properly constructed alert system is missing in the Health Star[s] system, which are like a movie rating system and are of no use,” he said.

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