FSSAI reworks norms for display and labeling

FSSAI makes expiry date display mandatory for food packaging

Image: Amazon

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently overhauled display and labeling norms for packaged food companies, making the display of ‘best before date’ or ‘expiry date’ mandatory in all cases. With effect from 1 January 2022, manufacturers need to present nutritional information in larger font sizes; and ensure display of food name along with the vegetarian or non-vegetarian symbol on the front of the eatable packet.

FSSAI has defined the age of children as 18 years, for the first time in India’s food packaging history. Labeling and display regulations are prescribed for the eCommerce sector, food operators, restaurants, and hotels. Nevertheless, the color-coded labeling scheme’s proposals for the classification of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar and the front labeling on food packs are yet to be finalized.

Industry concerns

The food and beverage industry has raised concerns about the definition of children conforming to the Juvenile Justice Act. Food industry giants have raised concerns about the bigger size fonts to be used in the principal display panels and protested against the practical feasibility of such packaging.

The new norms require listing the ‘expiration’ date and the ‘best before date’ on the food product pack mandatory. Industry bodies have complained that the display of an expiration date similar to the pharmaceutical industry is not feasible. They would like to stick to the ‘best before date’ for this purpose.

Further, the guidelines dictate that when the sale is through an eCommerce platform, these essential requirements must be communicated to the consumer before the sale, through means deemed feasible. The batch number, expiry date, best before date, and packing date are exempt from this communication.

Restaurant or cafe chains with ten or more outlets and or locations will be required to list the calorific values of foods and beverages served on the menu display boards, menu cards, and booklets. This specific provision will also apply to eCommerce retailers.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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