The FSSAI has brought to the notice of all concerned the need to discourage the packaging of free toys and gifts with food items. FSSAI has observed that such non-food items if swallowed by children can endanger their health or even life.
According to section 3(1) zz(xi) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 “Unsafe Food” means and article of food whose nature, substance or quality is so affected as to render it injurious to health: “by virtue of it’s being misbranded or sub-standard or food containing extraneous matter.”
Taking into consideration the need for the safety of the public at large, the FSSAI feels there is a need to discourage food businesses from providing any toy or gift item inside food packages, especially in case of food which is likely to be ingested directly by an infant or a child. FSSAI has opined that any kind of promotional free toys and gifts
- May be provided separately or packaged separately
- It is desirable that the colour, texture, and nature of the toy or gift item should not resemble the food product inside the food package.
The FSSAI has also requested all Commissioners of Food Safety of all States/ UTs to make efforts to generate awareness of this issue amongst all stakeholders so as to discourage the practice of packing of such toys or gifts with food products meant for infants or small children.
More about toys in Foods
Besides endangering health and life of children through ingesting promotional or free toys can also encourage children to opt for foods that advertise such toys. If these foods happen to be ‘unhealthy’ because of high, fat sugar and salt content, it can have short term and long-term health impact. Just to collect the full set of promotional toys children could purchase these foods again and again so they can complete the set.
This could be termed a dangerous trend, as habits and food patterns set in childhood lead to the formation of adult eating habits too. If children show a preference for such unhealthy foods in childhood, just to obtain the toys, their continued purchase could easily become a habit leading to a preference for such foods even in adulthood, which could, in turn, lead to their becoming victims of lifestyle diseases. Therefore, Food Business Operators must be careful about the kinds of foods that they are offering free gifts and toys. Opting for unhealthy foods, just to obtain a free gift or toy, could lead to health issues. Instead, if the free toys and gifts are offered with healthy food choices it could lead to better health impact. In some countries, there is a call for banning free toys and gifts with so-called ‘unhealthy’ or high-calorie foods and instead to offer them with foods that have greater nutritional values.