On December 16, 2016 Centre for Science and Environment organized Food Talk; a media briefing workshop and public meeting, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The event was aimed at discussing key issues around policy gaps and inconsistent industry practice regarding food labelling, claims and advertisements highlighted in the CSE’s report on Food Labelling, Claims and Advertisements.
Media briefing workshop was divided into three sessions spread across the day which was followed by public meeting conducted in the evening. Experts from different stakeholder groups were invited to present their views during the sessions. Among the speakers at the workshop were Sanjay Khajuria, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestle India; Ishi Khosla, nutritionist and founder, The Weight Monitor; Shriram Khanna, managing editor, Consumer Voice; Rajesh Sagar, professor and head, Dept. of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences; Pushpa Girimaji, senior journalist and author and Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. For public meeting speakers included Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands and Pawan Aggarwal, CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
It was discussed that India has weak regulatory framework and there is a need to strengthen regulations for labelling and claims.
Following are the recommendations that were discussed and agreed upon:
Strengthen the nutrition facts labeling system. Make labeling of salt/sodium, added sugar, saturated fats and transfats, as well as serving information, mandatory.
Develop an easy-to-understand front of pack labeling system.
With reference to nutrition claims, ascertain the nutrients for which claims can be made. Only authorized health claims should be allowed.
Approve food advertisements, particularly of those high in salt, sugar or fat, before screening.
Ban celebrities from endorsing foods high in salt, sugar or fat.
Disallow advertising for categories such as soft drinks on the lines of tobacco-based products.
Restrict disguised promotion of foods high in fat, salt or sugar in schools and mass media.
Institute and enforce stringent legal and financial penalties for misleading claims.