Stakeholders consultation on ‘Front of Pack Warning Labels (FOPL) on Unhealthy Packaged Foods in Bhopal

In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, Consumer VOICE in association with National Centre for Human Settlements & Environment and MP Institute of Hospitality Travel & Tourism Studies (MPIHTTS), Bhopal organized a stakeholders’ consultation on ‘Front of Pack Warning Labels (FOPL) on Unhealthy Packaged Foods for Consumers’ on 16th March.

While sensitizing the consumers on FOPL and its importance, Ms. Ekta Purohit, Manager, Projects, Consumer VOICE, said that “Amidst the rising concerns over obesity and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) ailments in our country, it becomes imperative for consumers to be a stakeholder in deciding what to eat and what is to be avoided. Front-of-Pack warning labeling represents a key component of a comprehensive strategy to promote healthier lives. It enables consumers to identify in a quick, clear and effective way, products high in salt, sugar and fats.”

Bhopal

Dr. S.K.Saxena while emphasizing on the harmful effects of packaged foods and rise in NCD burden in the state and in India, stressed that diets high in salt, sugar and fats is a major risk factor for these chronic and difficult to treat ailments. He said that one should be careful about contamination of food from the recycles packaging material as well. He also emphasized that consumption of ultra-processed foods and packaged foods is in the rise in (state) irrespective of the socio economic background, and it is putting the lives of our children and youth in danger.

Dr. Nilima Verma, Director, MPIHTTS, made a presentation on type of package food, packaging material and different types of labels, changes in logos to notify type of food being used in India. She also stressed that label should be clearly visible, readable and understandable and labeling should be food specific. Besides the level of different nutrients there should be date of manufacture and date of expiry. This will allow the consumers make the right choice with a simple warning label on the front of food packets for unhealthy foods. A front of pack warning label on packaged foods will help consumers identify the products that are high in salt, sugar and fat. She further advised the consumers to be smart shopper, compare food label, know what you are eating and choose healthy food.

Bhopal

Shri Sandeep Victor representing Food and Drugs, Madhya Pradesh said that the idea of a simple and understandable FOPL is good. Once the guideline for this is notified this will be implemented in Madhya Pradesh.

Prof. (Dr.) Sanjeev Gupta, Associate Professor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication said that health issues and importance of FOPL as discuss in the consultation needs to be disseminated among the larger population where media could play a major role.

Dr. Nandi, DG, NCHSE said that in India Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity are of growing concern.

Bhopal

He expressed doubt about the acceptability of proposal of FOPL having HSR label design with star ratings formula and said that consumers can never understand these. As consumer organization, working at the grass root level we need to emphasize that a simple Warning Label symbol with threshold level is always better for consumer understanding“.

Certificates were distributed to all the participants. The programme was conducted by Ms. Monica Sharma and Aiman Zubair of MPIHTTS and Mr. Avinash Shrivastava of NCHSE.

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