The health ministry has proposed changes in the law to restrict the use of terms that include ‘fresh’, ‘natural’, ‘original’ and ‘traditional’ in the advertisements for food products. The draft has been prepared by the Food Safety and Security Authority of India (FSSAI), which mentions that the words ‘fresh’ or ‘freshly’ may have no other connotation than the immediacy of action being described. For instance, the word ‘fresh’ can be applied to the products that have not been subjected to any process in any manner, except washed, peeled, chilled, trimmed and put through processing necessary for making it safe for consumption, without altering its basic characteristics.
According to the draft, which is with IANS, a food containing additives or subjected to packaging, storing or any other supply chain processes that control freshness shall not be termed under ‘freshly stored’ or freshly packed’. The draft also seeks to restrict the use of the word ‘natural’ to the foods derived from a deemed source like a plant, animal, mineral or micro-organism, to which nothing has been added. The word ‘natural’ cannot be used for compound food products that may be described as ‘made from natural ingredients.
“Compound foods shall not themselves be described directly or by implication as natural but such foods may be described as ‘made from natural ingredients’. This will also apply to words such as ‘real’ and ‘genuine’, when used in place of ‘natural’ in such a way as to imply similar benefits. Provided however, claims such as ‘natural goodness’, ‘naturally better’ and ‘nature’s way’ shall not be used,” says the draft proposal, as quoted in IANS, which has now called for suggestions from stakeholders before it is finalised.
The term ‘traditional’ can only be used to describe a recipe, fundamental formulation or processing method for a product that has existed for a significant period running over generations. On the other hand, the term ‘original’ shall only be used to describe a food which is made to a formulation, the origin of which can be traced and that has remained unchanged over time.
The draft that has five schedules mentioning the restrictions also deals with the health claims of the products. According to the draft, as mentioned in IANS, the claim that a food has certain nutritional or health attributes shall be scientifically substantiated by validated methods of quantifying the ingredient or substance that is the basis for the claim.
“All disclaimers related to a claim shall appear in the same field of vision. No claim or promotion of sale, supply, use and consumption of articles of foods shall be made using FSSAI logo and license number. Advertisements shall also not undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles,” the draft says.
With Inputs from IANS