91.4% people support inclusion of front of pack warning label on packaged food items to help make healthier choices

Poll results show ‘high-in’ warning label is most preferred by the consumers.

New Delhi, 1st September 2022: In an online poll conducted recently, overall, 91.4% respondents favoured consumer friendly Front of Package Labelling (FOPL) on packaged food items.

The poll results show that ‘high-in’ warning labels is most preferred by the consumers. Such warning labels are considered most simple and easy to read FOPL design. In this arrangement, if the packaged food contains high amount of fat, salt or sugar, then ‘high-in fat/salt/sugar’ should be clearly and prominently written on the top (front) of the packet.

More than twenty thousand respondents participated in this online poll which threw timely insights on consumer choice as Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is slated to release the much-awaited draft regulation on food labels.

When asked if they would feel safer if the packaged foods contained simple warning labels indicating fat, salt, and sugar levels higher than the limits prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO), an overwhelming 99% of the respondents said ‘Yes’. Additionally, over 95% people want food packets to have warning labels that clearly indicate the levels of fat, salt, and sugar. It may be noted that the WHO has prescribed the scientific limits of fats, sugar, and salt in packaged foods to safeguard the health of consumers.

The week-long online poll that was conducted between 2nd and 6th July 2022 garnered 22,647 responses and the results demonstrate a strong public support in favour of correct FOPL. Questions were asked in English and Hindi from verified Twitter handles.

FOPL is a simple, yet important tool that can help consumers make healthier food choices. Mr Manish Tiwari, Director, Institute for Governance Policies and Politics (IGPP), observed, “the objective of these clear warning labels on processed food packets is to inform consumers about the content of sugar, sodium and saturated fat that can help discourage consumption of unhealthy food items.”

It is a known fact that nutrients of concern – high sugar, sodium, saturated fat and added trans-fats –can adversely impact health. Excessive consumption of foods and beverages with high levels of these nutrients of concern, not only causes obesity but also elevates risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and premature death.

According to the Global Nutrition Report 2021, nearly 12 million premature deaths occurred in 2018 due to risks linked to consumption of an imbalanced and unhealthy diet as well as non-communicable diseases (NCD).

India, too, is facing an alarming rise in NCDs, including diabetes and obesity, that are overburdening the country’s health system. Nearly 1.5 crore Indian children are suffering from childhood obesity. Further, according to the WHO, around 58 lakh Indians die every year due to preventive NCDs.

In a recent roundtable discussion entitled “FOPL, Impact of Packaged Foods on Health” organized by the IGPP, Members of Parliament and doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, had acknowledged the strategic role that FOPL can play in reducing NCDs in India. The WHO also favours the mandatory use of front of pack labels that are simple to understand and readily visible.

About IGPP (https://www.igpp.in/) : Institute for Governance, Policies & Politics (IGPP) is a think tank dedicated for public policy research and analysis

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