According to an order dated 12th June, 2015, FSSAI will soon be issuing guidelines on foods that are high in Fat, Sugar and Salt content (HFSS) affecting school going children. These foods are commonly referred to as ‘Junk Food’ and the guidelines are being issued on the direction of the Delhi High Court. The serious nature of HFSS was realised through a court case that was filed by the Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups against the Indian government.
While FSSAI is going to issue separate guidelines on foods that affect the health of children it has also decided to form regulations for all foods in the market including processed foods, foods served at all eating places and even catering services. Since the high intake of Fat, Salt and Sugar has an adverse effect on health, the FSSAI has constituted an 11 member expert committee comprising of doctors, researchers, nutritionists and dieticians from NIN Hyderabad, AIIMS and other renowned hospitals and research organisations.
The expert committee will advise FSSAI on the health risks that are associated with high intake of fat, salt and sugar. The experts will also apprise FSSAI about the content of Fat, Sugar and Salt in the Indian foods in the market and how this can affect vulnerable groups.
It is a commonly known fact that foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt can cause health problems like heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and even tooth decay. Many processed foods, ready to eat meals, snack foods and savouries have high fat and salt content. Since the food habits of the nation are changing and these foods have become a part of the daily diet, rather than an occasional treat, so the Fat, Salt and Sugar content needs to be regularised keeping in mind consumers’ health.
A high content of fats are found in cakes, biscuits, butter, cream, cheese, pastries, chocolate and sausages and since many of these foods also have a high salt or sugar content the health of consumers could be affected. Besides this, foods that have a clearly high salt content are preserved meats, canned soups, precooked meals, cheese and salted nuts and snacks.
The expert committee will be able to recommend to the FSSAI what constitutes a healthy dietary intake of Fat, Salt and Sugar. They will also be able to provide inputs about the limits of Fat, Sugar and Salt in manufactured food products, processed foods and those that are imported. New labelling requirements for packed foods will be studied. There is also likely to prescribed regulations according to which content of Fat, Salt and Sugar will be displayed on food products that are sold or served in eating joints and also in catering facilities.
Once the expert committee provides inputs to the FSSAI, then based on the inputs there are likely to be regulations that will provide the exact limit of Fat, Salt and Sugar in all foods in the market. The labels on packaged foods will also undergo a change while those selling foods in all eating joints will have to display the content of Fat, Salt and Sugar of foods sold in their premises.