What do you check on a Food Label? Is it just the Brand Name, MRP, Best Before/ Use by date and the Name of the Product? What about the other information, and why is it necessary for you to know? Written this on perspective of both the Food Business Operators and the consumers. (Completely based on the FSSAI regulations)
FSSAI has declared the 15 (added 0.5) mandatory requirements to be available on every pre-packaged food. Every package of the food shall carry the following information on the label-
1. The Name of the food
2. List of Ingredients
Listed always in descending order of their composition by weight or volume at the time of preparation and mentioned as “Ingredients”. Please note that this need not be said single-ingredient food like Pulses, Maida, Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Salt, Sugar, Milk, unless if there’s an addition of second ingredient (which includes water).
3. Nutritional Information
Nutritional information per 100g or 100ml per serving of the product shall be given on the label. Energy (Kcal), Carbohydrates (g), Protein (g), Fat (g) and other necessary vitamins and minerals mentioned. Units must be referred Kcal for energy and other units such as Gram (g), millilitre (ml), milligram (mg). Do not specify the metrics as gms/gm/grams. Nutritional Information is not necessary in the case of raw foods, agricultural commodities, single-ingredient products. If you notice, most of our pulses, grains, salt, sugar will not have any Nutritional Information, unless there is any addition of second Ingredient.
4. Veg/Non-Veg declaration
Every package of Non-Vegetarian food shall bear a declaration to a colour code shown below to indicate that the product is Non-Vegetarian food. The symbol shall consist of brown colour filled in a circle having a diameter not less than 3 mm, inside a square with brown outline having a diameter of double the size of the width of the ring, which is 6 mm. Please note it should be Brown and not Red.
Brown colored Non-Veg Declaration
Every package of Vegetarian food shall bear a declaration to a color code shown below to indicate that the product is Vegetarian food. The symbol shall consist of green color filled in a circle having a diameter not less than 3 mm, inside a square with a green outline having a diameter of double the size of the diameter of the circle, which is 6 mm.
Green Colored Veg Declaration
The symbol shall be prominently displayed on the package right next to the Name of the Product, having a contrasting background on the principal display panel (Front side of the box). The same does not apply to packaged drinking water or mineral water or carbonated water or alcoholic drinks, liquid milk or milk powders.
Right Position of the declaration. Image From Kase Cheese Chennai
5. Declaration of Food additives Preservatives falling under respective classes I or classes II. Addition of colors or extraneous flavoring agents to be mentioned
CONTAINS PERMITTED NATURAL COLORS OR CONTAINS PERMITTED SYNTHETIC FOOD COLORS OR CONTAINS PERMITTED NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC FOOD COLORS, to be displayed along with their INS number of the food color, the color used need not be mentioned in the ingredient. In case of extraneous flavoring agents been added, it shall be mentioned beneath the list of ingredients — CONTAINS ADDED FLAVORS In case of both the color and flavors are added then the following shall be done- CONTAINS PERMITTED NATURAL COLOR(S) AND ADDED FLAVORS(S) OR CONTAINS PERMITTED SYNTHETIC FOOD COLOR(S) AND ADDED FLAVORS(S) OR CONTAINS PERMITTED NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC FOOD COLOR(S) AND ADDED FLAVOR(S) In case of the artificial flavor been added then the label shall declare the common name of the flavors, in case of the natural flavoring substances, the class name of the flavor s shall be mentioned on the label. Shall discuss in detail as a separate story for better clarity.
The consumer need to know what they are consuming regularly. What are the additives and colors that they are going to consume and how is this going to bother their health.
6. Name and complete address of the manufacturer- including the packaging and bottling unit details.
7. Net quantity
To be mentioned on the Principal Display Panel — front and right-hand side below the packaging. Food packed in a liquid medium shall carry a declaration of the drained weight in aqueous solution, oil, etc
Net weight mentioned below the Product Name and Right Hand Side. Grams to be mentioned as “g” and not “gms”, “gm”. Image from Kase Cheese Chennai
8. Lot/code/batch no
The code is easier to trace when any consumers raise a complaint and the product shall be recalled by the officials.
9. Maximum retail price
10. Date of manufacture/packing
– Date, month and year of packaging shall be given if the “best before date” is less than three months. – Date and the year of manufacture, packing shall be given if the “Best before date” is more than 3 months
11. Best before or use by date
12. Country of origin for imported food When a food undergoes processing in a second country which changes its nature, the country in which the processing is performed shall be considered to be the country of origin
13. Instructions for use
Yes, most important to read in any food label. Every consumer needs to know the storage practices as well as how to handle the product. The FBO must ensure that this is clearly explained on their labels.
14. FSSAI license logo Multiple licensing details and logo to be mentioned on the label if in case the product is marketed and manufactured by two different units. You can always go to the FSSAI website and enter the Company license number details to cross-check their identity.
The FSSAI logo must be encircled and underneath to be mentioned as “FSSL “License number”
15. Allergen declaration:-To declare the presence of allergens in bold letters.
“CONTAINS TRACES OF PEANUTS/ MUSHROOMS”
There are 9 main allergens which will be explained in the upcoming articles.
16. Customer Care number and details
The 0.5th requirement will help a consumer to raise a complaint, suggestions or feedback. Well, you can also suggest the FBO, if in case you find any error or missing details on the label.
Food labels are easier to read and understand. Food Business Operators must ensure they mention the necessary details in such a way that any consumer can understand. We, the consumers, must read the labels for our safety and a better understanding of what we are going to consume!