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Current Affairs

Star food ratings

Date: 10 May 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The recommendation made by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to assign start ratings for food products is being criticized.

 

Background

 The decision was based on an Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Ahmedabad study commissioned by the FSSAI. 

 

Details

  • The move will not only fail to enable consumers to make healthy choices but also mislead them about their nutritional value.

  • Public health experts favour the warning label system such as a black-and-white stop symbol used in Chile or the red warning symbol in Israel.

 

The rating

The health star rating system aimed to rate the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assign it a rating from half a star to five stars. 

 

Working

  • The system rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from half a star to five stars. 

  • An algorithm assigns a product a certain number of stars based on “positive” components (fibre, protein, and fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content) balanced against other components (oil, sugar, maida).

 

Significance

A proper method will educate consumers about harmful ingredients present in a food product and help them make healthy choices. 

 

Concerns expressed

  • Experts say that start ratings do not present the true picture of health profile of food.  They say it does not add value by misleading consumers.

  • Presence of high quantities of sugar can’t be negated by the so-called positive health ingredients.

 

Way ahead

A proper health warning label is needed to protect consumer interests and help them make informed decisions to exercise their right to healthy choices.