(GIST OF SCIENCE REPORTER) Front of Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL)
(GIST OF SCIENCE REPORTER) Front of Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL)
Front of Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL)
What is Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL)?
- As per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), it is a form of supplementary nutrition information that presents simplified nutrition information on the front-of-pack of pre-packaged foods.
- It can include symbols/graphics, text or a combination thereof that provides information on the overall nutritional value of the food and/or on nutrients included in the FOPNL.
Why it’s important?
- Nutrition labels advise consumers on packaged foods’ nutritional content and their contribution to the overall composition of the diet. They have been suggested as a means of promoting healthy diets and as a fundamental tool in the prevention of obesity and diet-related Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).
- The recent largest National Survey (National Family Health Survey-5) conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, reported the prevalence of overweight and obesity among women (24%), and men (22.9%), the prevalence of diabetes among women (13.5%) and men (15.6%), and also the prevalence of hypertension among women (21.3%) and men (24%) respectively. Excess intake of energy, sugars, salt and saturated fats is an important causal factor of obesity and related non-communicable diseases.
What about High Fat, Sugar, Salt Foods (HFSS)?
- It means a processed food product which has high levels of saturated fat or total sugar or sodium. The declared values of these ingredients are such that the product does not satisfy the value of energy (kcal) from total sugar less than 10 per cent of total energy, or from saturated fat 10 per cent of total energy, and sodium less than 1 mg/1 kcal” (FSSAI).
- As per the World Health Organisation, in order to decrease consumption of processed foods and beverages that are linked to unhealthy diets, front-of-pack labeling is a crucial component of WHO’s global policy pushing nations to create mandatory front-of-pack labeling systems.
WHO recommendations and principles include:
- Identifying “negative” nutrients that are harmful to diet-related NCDs, such as saturated and trans-fatty acids, energy and “added” or “total” sugars, and sodium.
- The scientific classification or rating of foods based on their nutritional content for the purpose of disease prevention and health promotion is referred to as nutrient profiling.
- Having mandatory nutrient information on food packages as a requirement for front-of-pack Labeling systems.
- A Front-of-pack Labeling system must be interpretive and based on symbols, colours, words, or quantitative components.
- Demanding that the information includes nutritional standards and food components to help consumers make decisions, interpret the risks associated with dietary-related NCDs, and support a healthy diet.
- Creating a procedure for monitoring and evaluating the overall front-of-pack labeling system in order to make any necessary modifications or corrections.
- In 2017, the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) identified the need for developing guidelines on front-of-pack nutrition labeling in order to establish global consistency and make it easier for consumers to understand the nutritional value of foods.
Types of FOPNL
- The FOPNL were classified into two categories that were ‘Summary Indicators’ and Nutrient Specific front-of-pack nutrition labels
- Nutri-Score: Launched in France in 2017 and recently approved for use in Belgium, Spain, and Portugal by those countries’ respective Ministries of Health. The Nutri-score labeling scheme grades foods by letters from A to E according to their overall nutritional quality.
- Health Star Ratings: Adopted in New Zealand after being introduced by the Australian government in June 2014. A front-of-pack labeling system called the Health Star Rating gives packaged foods a star rating from half a star to five stars based on their overall nutritional profile.
- Choices Programme: Introduced in the Netherlands in 2006 and currently in use in the Czech Republic, Argentina and Nigeria. The Choices logo, which can be found on packaged foods, conveys a good health message and aids consumers in choosing the healthiest alternative.
Nutrient Specific Nutrition Labels:
- Multiple Traffic Lights: Colour-coded system also
known as the traffic-light labeling system. The Food Standards Agency first introduced traffic light labeling back in 2006, but the current scheme was introduced in 2013 and is in use in the UK. This label gives nutrient-specific information which is colour coded. The colour codes in the label are similar to traffic signals, where red is danger and green is safe. If nutrient of concern (sugar, salt and fat) is above the normal level it will be shown in red colour, if it is within the normal range it will be shown in green colour, and if the nutrients of concern are in medium quantity (in between normal and high) it will be shown in orange colour.
- Warning Labels: The label was introduced in 2016 by the Chilean government. This label focuses only on the negative aspect of the food product. This label will help you identify whether the product you are going to buy is high in sugar, high in salt and/or high in fat (also high in saturated fat and trans fat). If nutrient of concern is above normal/recommended level it will be indicated within this octagon shape as, say, high in sugar. This type of label will be useful for individuals who are diabetic, hypertensive or with any heart problem as it clearly indicates which nutrient of concern is high.
- Reference Intakes: The Reference Intake figures (RI) were first mandated in 2016 under the European Union Food Information for consumers regulation. Previously, these were referred to as “Guideline Daily Amounts” (GDA). Energy only or energy-plus-fat-saturates-sugars-and-salt information is provided. Information on energy must be given per 100g/ml. This scheme has a lot of information, including how much each nutrient counts toward your daily allowance. However, RIs do not include good nutrients like fibre and only display the levels of negative nutrients like fat, sugar, and salt that a food has.
- However, symbols seen on food labels – such as the vegetarian and non-vegetarian icons – have higher memory and adoption potential. Therefore, it might be beneficial for front-of-pack labeling in India to be symbol based, with food images, logos, and health benefits. To be effective, front-of-pack symbols must be a part of the principal display panel and should have appropriate symbol-to-text ratio specifications.
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Courtesy: Science Reporter