Food Labels or Nutrition Labels or nutritional labeling serves as the main communication link between the manufacturer and the consumer. Through food nutrition labels, a manufacturer introduces the content of his product to the consumer. Food labels help the consumer to understand the nutrient composition of the packed food and on the other hand the manufacturer can target the right consumer.
As per food laws, every packaged food must be labeled to comply with the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) Regulations, 2011, a notification issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Components of Food Nutrition Labels
To protect the interests of the consumer every packaged item should have the following food nutrition label:
- The name of Food – The name of the food should be mentioned clearly along with the trade name
- List of Ingredients – The list of ingredients must be presented in the descending order of their composition by weight or volume, at the time of its manufacture
- Nutritional Information - The nutritional Information given per 100 gm or 100 ml per serving of the product must contain the following:
- energy value in kcal;
- the amounts of protein, carbohydrate (specify quantity of sugar) and fat in gram (g) or ml;
- the amount of any other nutrient for which a nutrition or health claim is made.The health claim must be validated by the FSSAI authorities and test data.
- Declaration regarding Veg or non-veg – All packaged food must have non-veg and veg symbol demarcated by its colour. Vegetarian foods should be marked with a green coloured dot and non-vegetarian foods marked with a brown coloured dot.
- Declaration regarding Food Additives –Many packaged foods containing colouring matters which should be mentioned on the label along with statements like “CONTAINS PERMITTED NATURAL COLOUR(S)”, just beneath the list of the ingredients on the label.
- Name and complete address of the manufacturer or packer – The complete address of the manufacturer should be mentioned on packaged lables.
- Net Quantity – The net quantity must be mentioned by weight or volume whichever is the case.
- Code No,/Lot No./Batch No. – A lot number of batch number is allotted to all packaged food which should be mentioned on the packet.
- Date of manufacture or packing – The date, month and year of the commodity in which it was manufactured should be mentioned on the label and also the “Best Before Date”
- Country of Origin for imported food – If the food is imported from any country, it should be should be declared on the label.
- Instructions for use – Some products are microwave safe, some should not be reheated- all these instructions should be clearly mentioned on the food label.
Consumer VOICE decodes food labels of packaged food and drinks and helps us to make a healthy choice with its key findings.