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Food labelling requirements in India

Food labelling in India

Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, notified by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

Food is necessary for survival and everyone loves to eat innovative food products. Food can be defined as any edible substance which can be consumed by humans to provide nutritional support to the body.

First we eat, then we do everything else.” -M.F.K. Fisher.

Food can be of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals.

In India every packaged food article for consumption has to be labeled in accordance to the related Indian Food Law i.e. Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, notified by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The food labeling is important because the consumer should be able to understand the constituents of the food product. A food label forms a connecting link between consumer and the producer through which manufacturer can tell the consumers about the food product. It is also a great way of advertising the product and attracting customers by highlighting the benefits of the product on the label.

“When you think of the blur of all the brands that are out there, the ones you believe in and the ones you remember, like Chanel and Armani, are the ones that stand for something. Fashion is about establishing an image that consumers can adapt to their own individuality. And it’s an image that can change, that can evolve. It doesn’t reinvent itself every two years.” –Ralph Lauren (1939 – ), American Fashion Designer and Businessman

A food label tells us about the components of the food product and is a great way of establishing an image of a food product. Manufacturers, through a food label spread information about the product, its constituents, uses, benefits, etc.

Also, a food label tends to leave a mark on the minds of the people who uses it and thus tends to grow its value in the market. A food label is made attractive to impress the consumer and build its image in the market. A food label displays information about the manufacturer name, address, place of manufacture significant to make consumers aware of the manufacturers and the brand.

For example, packed fruit juices are becoming popular among the masses. One of the popular among packed fruit juice is Real fruit juices which come now in 16 varieties. The information displayed on the front is :

Name of the variety say for example, Real fruit power- Pomegranate and to ensure customers of its safety,  it is mentioned on the label that it contain no added preservatives and no added colour. Luring picture of pomegranate and its juice.Also, it shows the name of the manufacturer i.e. Dabur India, address of the company, contact information, product code, etc.

When you focus on the consumer, the consumer responds –  Alexander Wang

Consumer should be well aware of the product uses and its role in maintaining the health and growth of the consumer. A food label is intended towards allowing the consumer to understand the food product and its functions. It is important for every food product to be labelled in order to provide necessary information to the consumer and to ensure them of the safety and useful benefits of the product.

Food label displays name of all the ingredients,its amounts present, nutritional information, For example, britannia offers a range of biscuits, one of them is digestive nutrichoice biscuits claim to be very healthy and digestive for the consumers.

They have a set of information labelled on their product package as follows:

Ingredients: Refined wheat flour(43%), whole wheat flour(20%), edible vegetable oil, sugar, wheat bran(4.7%), milk soilds, liquid glucose, maltodextrin, raising agents, common salt, emulsifiers(322 472e), solblake(270, 221), malt product and dough conditioner(223)Nutritional information per 100g of product, in terms of carbohydrates, protein, fat, sugars, saturated fatty acids, mono unsaturated fatty acids, poly unsaturated fatty acids,trans fatty acids, cholesterol, dietary fibre and energy.

Also, food label specifies if it contains added flavours and colours, preservatives.Net weight of biscuit- 250 gm Cost of the biscuit- Rs 50 Contact information : Executive, customer care cell tollfree no. , postal address, Address of the company, email id.The numerals specified in the brackets of ingredients is as per International numbering system.

It gives a sense of satisfaction to the consumers who uses a particular product by understanding its various constituents and other useful information about the food product. The display of appropriate information on the label builds up confidence in the consumer to use that product.

It is a great step to set up an image in the market.

We live in a disposable, ‘cast-off and throw-away’ society that has largely lost any real sense of permanence. Ours is a world of expiration dates, limited shelf life, and planned obsolescence. Nothing is absolute.   — Myles Munroe

Every food product has a particular shelf life. Shelf life is the duration during which product remains acceptable by the consumer. Fresh fruits and vegetables have limited shelf life, they get spoiled within some days while cereal grains and nuts have a longer shelf life, upto 1-2 year.

Shelf life of a food product depends upon the product, its environmental conditions, variety,etc. It is significant for the consumer to have a knowledge of product storage requirements so that it does not deteriorate before consumption. This is taken care of by a food label which is present on all major food articles and provides all necessary information. Food label is an important part of the food product in establishing it’s image in the market.

For example, Britannia nutri choice digestive biscuits displays on its label, the necessary storage conditions which must be provided to the product for maintaining its shelf life. Store in a cool, hygienic and dry place. Transfer contents to a clean airtight container (once opened).Best before 6 months from date of packaging.

Term ‘Best before’ implies that the product is best consumed before the date mentioned, however it can be consumed after this date but it does not represents the optimum freshness of the product.  

It can be concluded that a food abel forms an important part of a food product in is marketing, sale, advertisement and overall image.

The Government of India’s (GOI) Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) amended the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011, to widen the range of applicable products which require nutritional labels

A food label forms a connecting link between consumer and producer by which it provides the necessary information about the food product, its name, manufacturers, net quantity etc. Food labelling standards are given by FSSAI under Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) Regulations, 2011.

It states that every pre packaged food must possess a label displaying information which shall not be false, deceptive or misleading in any manner. English and Hindi language must be used on the label. However, this, it does not prohibit the use of any other language in addition to these. Label must be properly stuck to the food container such that it does not separate from the container at any time. Information displayed on the label must be very clear, legible and appropriate.In case the food container is packed in an external wrapper, the wrapper must contain the information or the information on the container must be clearly legible through the wrapper.

A food label is a means by which necessary information concerning the food product is carried. It must include name of the product, net quantity, the date on which the product is produced and packed in the container, date after which the product must not consumed, list of the ingredients used during its preparation along with its quantities. Also, if an ingredient itself contains two or more components, these must be specified within the brackets. Moreover, label shall provide the nutritional information which is effectively used by the manufacturers to lure the customers. Also, it is very important to declare, on the label whether the food product is veg or non-veg, whether it contains any food additive or preservatives. Apart from this, label must show the name and complete address of the manufacturer or packer. code No,/Lot No./Batch No.,country of Origin for imported food and Instructions for use which includes information regarding its storage and consumption.

A food label has a principal display panel where major information is grouped together at one place.

The area of principal Display panel shall not be less than 40% of the area of rectangular container, 20% of the area of cylindrical container.

There are food product specific requirements which must be satisfied before the product is available for consumers in the market.

In case the label does not satisfy the food labelling standards, food product is categorised as misbranded food and is liable to various penalties as follows:

  • Misbranded Food Up to 3 lakh rupee
  • Misleading advertisement Up to 10 lakh rupees
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