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.
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.