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New FSSAI labelling norms to make it mandatory to label GMO products
Saturday, 23 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, has decided to make it mandatory for food business operators (FBOs) to declare whether their food products contain any ingredient that is a genetically-modified organism (GMO).
 
According to sources, FSSAI, which has been working on a comprehensive regulation regarding labelling norms for food products in India, has compiled the draft, which will be put out for stakeholders’ consultations soon.
 
With these regulations, the debate on GM food labelling, which was raging in the country, and questions about many products that could have been sourced from the GMO crops sold in India, could possibly laid to rest.
 
FBOs now have to declare it on the labels if their products contain any ingredient which is sourced from GMOs and has at least five per cent presence in the product.
 
A senior official privy to the development stated, “Under the new norms (which will be out soon), FBOs have to label such product mentioning specifically the presence of GMOs, if they contain five per cent of such ingredients.”
 
Besides, the declaration regarding the fat, salt and sugar content has to be made in the labels, and if the amount exceeds the threshold or the limit, FBOs have to declare it with red ink.
 
Sources said that FSSAI used a World Health Organisation (WHO) report on Asian food threshold to refer the limits of fat, sugar and salt content in a food product.

The apex food regulator has also decided to use the term salt instead of sodium, which has created some controversy regarding the understanding of the word - sodium - amongst the masses.
 
“It has been made mandatory for FBOs to declare in the label that how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains, and if the limits were above the threshold, they have to mark it with red ink,” said the official.
 
According to the WHO healthy diet index, energy intake (calories) should be in balance with energy expenditure.
 
Less than 10 per cent of the total energy intake from free sugars, which is equivalent to 50g (or about 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming approximately 2,000 calories per day, but ideally less than five per cent of the total energy intake for additional health benefits.
 
Further, less than 30 per cent of the total energy intake from fats and less than 5g of salt (equivalent to approximately one teaspoon) per day was recommended by WHO.
 
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