The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which is an autonomous body under Government of India for management of Health & Family Welfare are responsible for regulating food safety and protecting public health. The food authority FSSAI which is the regulator of food in India has norms for the Food Business Operators to overhaul labelling and display norms and make the display of expiry date mandatory. Food labelling and display is the process where the packaged foods are to label the packet with the food content information.
The Labelling and display norms has to mention the ingredients of the food, manufacture and expiry date and other details so as to keep the consumer informed about the kind of food he is eating. Likewise, the display norms are mandatory for all the Food businesses to identify and distinguish the different kinds of businesses.
FSSAI Overhauls Labelling and Display Norms
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified the new labelling and display regulations for the first time also defined the age of children for the food industry as below 18 years. Food enterprises supplying any packaged food required to display the ‘use by’ or ‘expiry date’ instead of using ‘Best Before.’
The nutritional information or nutritional fact shall be displayed on the display panel in the big font size and also the name of the food with proper categorization symbol of the vegetarian & non vegetarian food on the front part of the food packet. All of these shall be with effect from the January 1st 2022.
Few of the general requirements of labelling and display of the packaged goods are:
- The pre-packaged food shall be properly labelled with the required information as compulsory under these regulations unless as otherwise provided.
- In case of the pre-packaged foods which are being sold online or by way of direct selling, the obligatory requirement of the label as according to the regulation so as to give the consumer all the information through proper means before the sale.
- The labelling and display of the packaged food shall not be such so as to mislead or deceive the consumer or in a manner that is false or creates a mistaken impression regarding its nature in any respect.
- Any details or picture representation in a graphical manner or anything which is written, printed shall be displayed on the label of the packaged food and must mandate with the requisites of the regulations.
- The labelling and display print shall be in English or hindi in devanagari script and can also be in any other language as according to the regulation. But the information in any other language must not contradict with that written in English or Hindi.
- The labelling and display should be so printed on the packaged foods that it shall be attached to the container of the food.
- The labelling and display content shall be apparent, definite, unambiguous, prominent, ineffaceable and clearly legible by the consumers under the usual conditions of use and purchase.
Some of the mandatory labelling and display requirements are given below, which are as follows:-
Rules for FSSAI Display Boards in India
It is mandatory for all the food businesses operators to obtain the FSSAI License or register their food businesses in India. FSSAI has come up with the guidelines of FSSAI display board rules. On the basis of the turnover of the company, there are three categories of registration that a food business needs and they are Basic registration, FSSAI State License or Central FSSAI License.
After receiving the fourteen digit license number issued by FSSAI. The food business operators need to follow certain FSSAI display board rules as introduced by FSSAI under Food Safety Display Boards (FSDBs) for displaying the information on the packed goods and in their business premises.
- Food Safety Display Boards are the board providing information about the food safety and the hygiene safeguards that are to be followed by Food business operators in their enterprise.
- The food safety display boards are colour coded to distinguish various kinds of food businesses for easing the identification of the particular business by the consumers. The different colour designation is assigned according to the business which is given as follows –
- Restaurant (Purple)
- Fruit & Vegetable Retail (Green)
- Meat Retail (Red)
- Milk Retail (Blue)
- Street Food (Purple)
- Retail Store (Grey)
- Liquor Retail (Brown)
- Transport & Distribution (Navy Blue)
- Storage (Yellow)
- Manufacturing (Turquoise)
- The importance of displaying the FSSAI registration or display of the food business operator’s license number can guide the customer to check and verify the authenticity at the FSSAI website.
- The display board shall provide information about the Food Safety norms and Hygiene obligations and shall also keep the consumers, the food agents and the staffs informed about all these important guidelines. Accordingly also getting an assurance of 360-degree on the food safety.
- An efficient way of receiving the consumer feedback via WhatsApp, SMS or options of giving feedback on the app of FSSAI.
- The display board must specifically mention the kind of food business the food business operator is dealing with.
- The food business operators must follow the given size mandate: A3 for FSSAI Licensed Food Business and A4 size for FSSAI Registered food business.
- The minimum number of board that should be displayed is one but in case of big outlet more than one board can be displayed.
- The material of the board shall be such that the consumers are able to read and must get repaired with time if damaged.
- It is a Mandatory directions for the food business operators to add their FSSAI License No. on top and on the lower right-hand there must be the Company Name and Feedback Details.
Brief note on ‘Expiry date’ or ‘Use-by date’
FSSAI has recommended to include the “Use by” or “expiry date” on the label of the packages product means the date which represents the estimated period’s end under any storage conditions after that the food product may not stay safe and shall not have the quality of safety attributes of the food product as normally is expected by the food and the consumers, and such food shall not be distributed or sold for human consumption;
FSSAI has removed the requirement of labelling and display of “Best before” as best before means that the food may be safe to eat but may have lost its quality. So, now the food cannot be sold if at any stage the food product has become unsafe.
Safe and healthy food is a constitutional mandate. It is important that FSSAI is mandating with regulations and having a strict implementation on labelling and display board norms and the use by or expiry date requirements on the packaged foods. FSSAI is the sole authority to ensure food safety and hygiene conditions of the food. Therefore, these guidelines and regulations must be necessarily obliged by the Food Business Operators so as to avoid cancellation of their food business and to ensure the FSSAI’s objective of safeguarding food quality, public health and life.
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