FSSAI says labelling norms need to be changed
Even educated consumers do not read label while purchasing food items. We get influenced by dazzling media advertisements and buy products without seeing the label. There is no awareness to check contents of the label," FSSAI Chairman Ashish Bahuguna said on Tuesday.
Favouring an overhaul of norms for labelling of food products, regulator FSSAI today said consumers are getting influenced by ‘dazzling’ advertisements and are buying products without seeing the labels.
"Even educated consumers do not read label while purchasing food items. We get influenced by dazzling media advertisements and buy products without seeing the label. There is no awareness to check contents of the label," FSSAI Chairman Ashish Bahuguna said on Tuesday.
Speaking on the occasion of the National Consumer Day here, Bahuguna said, "To promote healthy food, we need to focus on label. We need to change norms of labelling. Unless consumers know what is the content in the product, how would he know it is healthy for him."
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) President D K Jain also said the consumers get confused about labels printed on food items and the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) should look into labelling issues related to ‘expiry date’ and ‘best before’.
Stating that consumers normally do not distinguish between safe and healthy food, Bahuguna said, "The food which is safe is not necessarily be healthy. It is important for consumers to check how and from where they get safe food. We should ourselves think about safe food."
Emphasising on creating awareness about ‘safe and healthy food’, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said at the same event that the new Consumer Protection Bill and BIS Bill, once passed in Parliament, would provide greater consumer protection.
"There is lack of awareness about ‘safe and healthy food’ in the country. All organisations should take responsibility in creating consumer awareness," Paswan said.
More awareness needs to be created among women, since they take care of food needs of family members, he said, adding the passage of the BIS and Consumer Protection Bills would provide greater protection to consumers.
Paswan further said that the government makes standards to ensure the quality of products and services and at the same time it does not want to impose ‘inspector raj’.
On the labelling issue, Jain said, "Safe and healthy food is a constitutional mandate. There has to be stringent provisions in place to combat food adulteration."
Amid globalisation and foreign trade, consumers are confused with variety of products that are available in the market. "Consumers get attracted with labels and buy without seeing the contents of label," he said. "FSSAI has to see this aspect. There is ‘Best before" in label is there. What does it mean. Is it fit for human consumption after six months? We don’t know. Consumers are confused. What is sacrosanct about ‘Best before’. Why not have only ‘expiry date’ on label?" he added.
He also asked both the FSSAI and Consumer Affairs Ministry to address misleading advertisements.