By Rameesh Kailasam & Rajesh Mehta
Fast urbanisation is enormously influencing folks’s meals consumption patterns with inclinations growing in direction of packaged and processed meals gadgets. India’s consumption continues to be fairly low when in comparison with western international locations particularly the US, whereby such meals make up for nearly 70% of the nation’s weight loss program; nevertheless shopper preferences appear to point a rising desire to western packaged meals over Indian meals. There may be additionally a transfer to label meals in India primarily based on their fats, salt, and sugar content material. Most conventional and indigenous Indian meals normally include salt, sugar, jaggery, ghee, oil, and spices which can be important for not solely their style but in addition have components uniquely required for the Indian local weather. For previous few years, in India, the Meals Security and Requirements Authority of India (FSSAI) has been pushing for the proposal of interpretative meals labels below entrance of package deal labelling laws ie. marking meals gadgets as ‘good-food’, ‘not-good meals’, ‘one-star meals’, ‘red-marked meals’, and so on., primarily based on their salt, sugar, and fats content material. There are additionally discussions round recommending larger taxation on meals which have sugar, fats, salt and front-of-the pack labelling of their endeavor to sort out rising weight problems.
Many of the snacks like bhujiya or banana chips will include salt and fats, and sweets like rasgulla and mysore pak will include sugar. Even summer season drinks like jaljeera, nimbu pani, lassi, and chaach may have sugar/salt and meals accompaniments like pickle or chutney may have salt and fats contents. One other class of different indigenous conventional meals resembling parathas and thepla could include salt and fats.Due to this fact if one had been to peek into what’s in retailer in future, it’s possible you’ll almost definitely see your favorite Indian indigenous meals and specialties rising from completely different states being marked in crimson and labeled as ‘not good meals’ and getting levied larger tax fee making them pricey and past attain of widespread man. So will this be a sensible option to for FSSAI’s earnest endeavour to make sure that customers know what they’re consuming, or will this terrify them? Capability constructing/ consciousness is equally the necessity of the hour for India’s huge meals manufacturing ecosystem that sells packaged Indian meals which can be a lot bigger than the large manufacturers as a overwhelming majority of them are small producers and girls self-help teams. If kids had been the main target, then there are already safeguards proposed by FSSAI and numerous state governments about meals with excessive fats, salt and sugar content material to not be given to kids in class canteens or bought inside 50 m of college campuses.
After all, something consumed in extra is unhealthy for one’s well being and customers ought to ideally know what they’re consuming and the way a lot they need to; nevertheless labelling could not appear to be the precise method in case of indigenous Indian meals since there are numerous implications to it. Think about vacationers coming to India to have a style of the very best Indian delicacies and seeing Pink or Not Good Meals labelled on them can have a critical implication on tourism and the optics of gifting throughout festivities. Whereas nobody is in opposition to informing and educating customers and producers, the style of labelling could end up counterproductive if the optics go unhealthy and taxes get levied. It should even be famous that the Indian meals have been historically designed and ready to swimsuit and survive the prevalent weather conditions of that area apart from genetic composition of its folks. As an illustration, folks in coastal states usually require and eat meals or drinks like buttermilk, wealthy in salt due to extreme humidity and sweating. Equally, the farming inhabitants within the northern states of Punjab and Haryana eat meals excessive in salt and fats to maintain them going within the fields for hours apart from managing the acute climate situations.
Whereas the thought and observe of going after sugar and salt is initially overseas, there are perceived international lobbies at play right here each for and in opposition to fats, sugar, salt and mud has not even partly settled on who is correct or unsuitable. Each lobbies have equally deployed a battery of meals and well being consultants to push their case throughout governments globally. Nonetheless, whereas it’s the obligation of FSSAI to make sure the customers are knowledgeable of what they’re consuming, there must be a greater methodology of speaking the day by day allowed consumption ranges as an alternative of a hazardous show route that appears to imitate tobacco. Laws like these can even have an antagonistic impact on village, cottage industries, Girls self-help teams, small meals producers, and lakhs of indigenous meals producers and meals startups throughout states whose livelihoods will be jeopardised by such guidelines and potential taxes. The proposed laws have critical limitations and have been carried out by only a few international locations like Sri Lanka. Additional, since all packed meals gadgets within the Indian market already carry a vitamin desk and classification dots for vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals additional info could solely confuse customers and producers. There must be capacity-building and training apart from the practicality of meals consumption patterns, climate, and tourism optics which can be equally important to be thought-about, else the standard Indian packaged meals market runs into the chance and dilemma of being branded unhealthy and taxed.
The authors are CEO, Indiatech.org, and a public coverage marketing consultant respectively.