Products of top food companies fail to meet norms of regulator
Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has rejected scores of product approval requests by Tata Starbucks, Ferrero, FieldFresh Foods, Kellogg and McCain, among others, on account of assessment of risk or safety, according to a statement on the regulator’s website.
Applications by Tata Starbucks that were disallowed include over 30 variants of puddings, sauces, mixes, syrups, tea and coffee. Other products that were rejected include McCain’s battered pepper and cheese bites, Venky’s chicken Arabic-style kofta and crispy chicken burger patty. Also rejected were Kellogg’s Special K-red berries, Del Monte’s egg mayonnaise/salad dressing variants, natural vinegar and a proprietary hot sauce, and Ferrero Rocher’s proprietary milky and cocoa spreads with cereals and milk chocolate.
FSSAI also pulled up the companies for trying to seek unfettered passage for their merchandise using the ‘Make in India’ initiative, which encourages local manufacturing. There have been skirmishes between FSSAI and companies over holding back approvals for the import of some products, including chocolates and liquor.
“Most food business operators, especially the aggrieved ones, appear to be swearing by the hon’ble PM’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, conveniently forgetting that it is also accompanied by the words ‘zero defect and zero effect’,” FSSAI Chief Executive Officer YS Malik said in an open letter that was posted on the website.
The notice lists applications received by the food regulator which have been rejected “on assessment of risk and safety of the proposed products by the product approval and screening committee and the scientific panel”, according to the FSSAI statement. The products are a combination of imported and locally made ones.
The food regulator conducts tests of random samples and in the case of imported products, checks them at ports. The FSSAI official said in his letter that companies often found it convenient to draw parallels with the US Food & Drug Administration or the EU regulatory system, “little realizing that selfregulation is rather compelling in those economies, thanks to a very conscious and aware consumer base, coupled with an effective and responsive legal system.”
Public unaware of global impact of unhealthy diets, says study
New research from Consumers International, the international federation of consumer organizations, suggests that huge numbers of the public are unaware of the major impact that unhealthy diets are having on global public health. Research across six countries found that on average only 18 per cent of people correctly identified that unhealthy diets contributed to more deaths than war, smoking, consumption of alcohol, HIV/AIDS or malaria.
The research also shows the demand for actions to help consumers choose a healthier diet. These actions include: reducing high levels of fat, sugar and salt in everyday foods, regulating the marketing of food high in fat, sugar and salt to children, and giving consumers more information about the levels of fat, sugar and salt in food.
Amanda Long, director-general of Consumers International, commented: “Our survey suggests that few people understand the scale of the health crisis we are facing. Unhealthy diets contribute to 11 million deaths per year and rank above tobacco as the world’s leading cause of these preventable non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Obesity alone costs the world economy $2 trillion a year.
“Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity worldwide has nearly doubled and Type 2 diabetes incidence has soared with unhealthy diets the largest contributor to the global problem. We need to urgently address this issue.”