Unveiling of the study conducted by AIIMS & University of North Carolina titled ‘The SEARO Nutrition-Profile-Model sets practical and effective cutoffs for Front of Package Labels for India’

On November 30th, 2021, Consumer VOICE released a study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill that demonstrates the nutrient profile model (NPM) from the WHO Southeast Asian Regional Office (SEARO) is appropriate for the design of front of package labels for India. This study was released by Padma Shri Awardee, Dr Chandrakant S. Pandav who also co-authored the paper, Ms Vandana Shah, Regional Director, GHAI and Mr Ashim Sanyal, CEO, Consumer VOICE. This was the first physical workshop during the pandemic that took place at Le Meredien in New Delhi which was attended by Consumer VOCE partners and journalists from various journalists. 

This study which was conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill demonstrates that the nutrient profile model (NPM) from the WHO Southeast Asian Regional Office (SEARO) is appropriate for the design of front of package labels for India. Analyzing a set of more than 10,000 food products currently available in the Indian food market, the study finds that applying the SEARO NPM cut-off points would result in 68% of products in the market requiring a warning label. This is in stark contrast to an earlier study undertaken by Nutrition Alchemy, utilizing a small dataset of 1,300 products and information provided by the food industry, which found that 96% of products would require a label.

The apex food safety regulator of the country is keen to bring about the much-awaited regulation on FOPL. To gather consensus it has held several rounds of consultations with industry, civil society and consumer groups since the beginning of 2021 and also constituted a working group. As per this report, the working group was being guided by the findings of the Nutrition Alchemy report. The industry too was unwilling to go for nutrition cut-offs that would force most of the products to be reformulated. “Decisions based on this new report which relies on a much larger sample will bring reassurance to industry,” said Mr Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer VOICE and erstwhile member of the consultative committee constituted by FSSAI. “We applaud FSSAI for its inclusive approach in determining the right FOPL for India and hope that findings of this report can make a strong case for WHO SEARO nutrient profile which can be the basis for simple, interpretive warning labels that are best for consumers.”

For the complete report, click here

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