In a fresh notification FSSAI has further extended the time period to Food Business Operators for complying with the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 regarding the declaration of trans fat and saturated fat on the labels. Presently also fats are being declared on labels so this notification for extension in time is actually for complying with the labelling amendments that FSSAI had notified in the Official Gazette on 17th December, 2014.
Previously the last date for complying with this amendment in labelling requirement was 31 December 2015 but through the new notice the date for complying with the amended label declaration of trans fats and saturated fats has been extended for another six months up to July 01st, July, 2016. So FBOs have been given a time of six more months to comply with the provisions of the amended declaration on labelling for fats.
The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 and the subsequent notified amendment by the FSSAI mention the manner in which Nutritional information must be declared on labels. Fats are considered a part of Nutritional information along with proteins, carbohydrates, sugars and calories. In case FBOs do not make labelling declarations as mentioned in regulations then the product is likely to be considered misbranded/substandard product and the Food Business Operator could be liable for punishment. Foods must also be periodically tested to ensure that the foods contain the quantity of nutrients as mentioned on the labels.
The Nutritional Information labelling is important as it informs the consumer of the nutritional properties of the food. This information enables the consumer to compare the nutritional value of similar food products. Comparing nutritional value of products allows the consumer to make informed choices according to their individual needs. Since salt, sugar and fats are considered to be a health risk many consumers buy foods according to this label information. Also sports personnel and growing children have need for more nutrients and they will buy products that fulfil these needs.
Therefore, Trans fatty acids and saturated fatty acids are to be mentioned as percentage by weight in 100gm or 100ml of the product. It can also be mentioned by percentage of weight in one serving of the product.
About Trans fat and saturated fat
Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of Trans fats naturally. However, Trans fats can also be formed through a process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil. The advantage of using hydrogenated vegetable oil is that it does not spoil easily and so increases the shelf life of food products. When used in frying it does not need to be changed as often as other types of oil. Bakery products, snacks, fried foods, some margarine etc. contain Trans fats so it is important for health reasons to make correct declarations so the consumer can choose what to eat and what to avoid.
Saturated fats are found in fatty meats like ham and sausages, lard, full cream dairy products like butter, cream, ghee, coconut and palm oil and also dark chocolate. Saturated fatty acids can be differentiated from other fats because they do not have double bonds like monounsaturated fatty acids or polyunsaturated fatty acids that have two or more double bonds. Eating too much saturated fat increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood leading to heart disease. This is the reason that consumers must be informed about the quantity of saturated fats in food products.