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Delays and dilutions have derailed regulations of packaged and fast foods. Evaluate.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

4. Delays and dilutions have derailed regulations of packaged and fast foods. Evaluate.  (250 words)

Down To Earth

Why this question:

The test results of the Environment Monitoring Laboratory at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) have unmasked two anomalies:

  • First, food manufacturers blatantly sell products that have unhealthy levels of nutrients.
  • Second, a nexus between the industry and regulating agencies backs this brazen act.

India, therefore, urgently needs a robust law on labelling and disclosure of nutritional information on food packs.

Key demand of the question:

The question is in the backdrop of existing weak and ineffective Food Safety and Standards Regulation. One must evaluate the laws present, find the shortcomings and present measures to strengthen it.

Directive:

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgment about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

In brief explain what junk food is.

  • A food is classified as junk if it doesn’t offer any or has very little nutritional benefits and is generally high in sugar or fat. The junk foods are also observed to be very low in fibre and very high in calories.

Body:

Then move on to explain the adverse effects of junk food on human health.

Discuss the prevailing laws to regulate the same and their shortcomings

  • The existing Food Safety Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, is too weak and ineffective. Even some-thing as basic as salt is not mandatorily disclosed.
  • In 2013, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s food regulator, set up an expert committee to regulate junk food available in schools following an order of the Delhi High Court.
  • In 2014, the expert committee, comprising doctors, nutritionists, public health experts, civil society and industry, suggested labelling of calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt on the front of food packs, or FoP.
  • It took FSSAI a year to be ready with the draft Food Safety Standard (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018. The draft sought mandatory declaration of salt as sodium chloride. Till now, salt did not figure in food labels.
  • The diluted version came in July 2019, which has seriously compromised public health, is still not acceptable, presumably to the powerful food industry. It is still not notified.

Provide measures to strengthen it.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting what should be the way forward.