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Restaurants opposed to FSSAI move to display calorific values in menus
Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi 
As FSSAI gears up to implement rules for the display of information related to calorific values in menus for food service establishments, the restaurant industry rejects the idea by showing that the move is wrong. The country’s apex food regulator intends to do it for the big players only for now, with over 20 establishments in the country having Central licenses.

Besides, FSSAI wants the restaurants to also mention information about allergens, the vegetarian and non-vegetarian logos, information regarding organic food or ingredients, etc., as well.

Although the matter is in a preliminary state, and the regulator has just issued a notice calling for suggestions, views, comments, etc. from the World Trade Organisation (WTO)-Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee members on the draft Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Regulations, 2018 relating to the display of information in food service establishments.

Wherein, in Regulation 2.4 (of the Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2011), after Sub-Regulation 2.4.4, FSSAI wants the following sub-regulation to be inserted:

“Sub-Regulation 2.4.5: Display of information in food service establishments

(1) Food service establishments having Central license or outlets at 20 or more locations shall display the calorific value of each of the food items sold by them on their menu cards or boards. Additionally, reference information on the requirements of 2,000Kcal energy for an average adult per day shall also be displayed clearly and prominently

(2) Food service establishments shall display the information specified below at the point of sale or service of the food: (a) any warning/statutory declarations required under these regulations; (b) information relating to allergens in the food; (c) logo for vegetarian or non-vegetarian, (d) information relating to gluten-free and low gluten status in food, and (e) information relating to organic food or ingredients.

The proposed regulation also includes that the e-commerce players display this information in the menu linked with each food service operator.”

Expressing his discontent on the subject, Kamlesh Barot, past president, HRAWI, said, “Standardisation of the menu is not possible and same dish prepared multiple times may differ in calorific value.”

“This shouldn’t be the another stick to beat us,” he said, added, “Uniformity in calorific values in food items freshly prepared in the kitchen of a restaurant is a difficult task for the restaurateurs.”

“Before implementing any such move the apex food regulator should consider our views and consult us,” he said, adding that instead what FSSAI could do, if at all it wanted to implement the idea, was to give restaurants a range of calorific values, so that the fluctuations can be dealt with.

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, president, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), said that it is not possible for hoteliers and restaurateurs to mention the calorie count of each meal mentioned in the menu.

“Unlike the business of ready-to-eat (RTE) meals where packaged products have standardised quantities, ingredients and preparation processes. Restaurant kitchens prepare and serve food that are created a-la-carte,” he added.

“Each chef has his or her own personalised style and variation. As we are not in the business of buying ingredients from vendors and assembling them on site, but prepare the dishes in-house, fresh and customised, it would be practically impossible to provide calorie count,” Kohli said.

Meanwhile, according to the draft regulation, event caterers and food service premises operating less than two months or 60 days in a year, and specific or modified menu meals as per the customer’s request are exempted from the regulations.

“Further, foodservice establishments shall also keep written nutritional information on the food items sold by them in the form of booklets or handouts or on their website which shall be provided to consumers upon request,” said the draft.
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