How often have you checked the labels and information on the back of your favorite bar of chocolate or that container of granulated coffee that your spouse loves? If you have, you will know how many calories that chocolate bar contains or the nutritional information of the coffee powder. Thanks to the FSSAI registration’s stringent set of guidelines for labelling and packaging, all food products carry enough information to help you decide whether to buy it or not.
Twelve important FSSAI guidelines for packaging and labelling / THE DO’S
- Name of the product
As the basic information, it is mandatory for the name of the food product to be printed in a clear format in clear font.
- List of ingredients
All the ingredients used must be mentioned and no ingredient can be withheld from the consumer’s knowledge.
- Nutritional information
This column is important for the conscientious consumer because it contains all the calorific values derived from the trans-fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, sodium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron present in the product.
- Vegetarian or non-vegetarian declaration
This information is usually denoted by a symbol with a dot inside a square given in green or red color with the green signifies vegetarian food and the red signifies that meat products are added in the food.
- Declaration of food additives
Food additives used to enhance the flavor or appearance of the product must be mentioned.
- Name and address of the manufacturer
This information should have the complete address along with the registered name. Products without incomplete information can be considered fake and can warrant severe action.
- Net quantity
Net quantity contains information about the weight of the product along with the packaging weight.
- Batch number/code number/ lot number
These three numbers have the information of the state, district and area of distribution.
- Date of manufacture , Best Before date and Use By date
This is perhaps the most important information that a consumer regularly checks for on the label. Best before and user by date are to be mentioned clearly so that consumers avoid buying food that has expired.
- FSSAI logo and license number
The FSSAI registration and license number along with the logo must be displayed on the package in a clear, contrast color to the background.
- Country of origin for imported foods
The country from where the food is imported must be mentioned. If the food undergoes processing in another country, the country in which the processing takes place shall be its country of origin.
- Instructions for use
Instructions are to be clearly printed in words or along with pictorial references if the product cannot be directly consumed. Additional storage instructions, if necessary must also be added.
Factors that can affect FSSAI registration and approval / THE DON’TS
- False advertising and misleading captions
The package cannot carry information that is in no way related to the product. Such captions are said to mislead the consumer and trick them into buying the product. Classic examples are “2 minute noodles” and “healthy, nutritious” soups.
- Altering logo dimension and color
It is mandatory to stick to the size of the fonts and size of the FSSAI logo as per the specific dimensions. The same rule applies to the symbol that indicates if the product is vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
- Color contrast and segment alterations
FSSAI insists that the packaging colors must be chosen in a way that the product information segment is highlighted from the rest of the package. The segment dimensions have to be precisely followed and can in no way be made smaller or inconspicuous.
- Wrong choice of font type and size
Whilst companies can freely choose the font for the product’s name, all guidelines must be printed using FSSAI approved typeface and font dimensions. Any other additional information that has to be on the package must also be of FSSAI approved font and size.
FSSAI’s rules and regulations for packaging and labeling are hard and fast. Any violation can invite strict action, penalty or delay of the product entering the consumer market, thereby causing massive monetary loss and damage to the company’s reputation. Repetitive offences can land the violator in prison for a term of up to 5 years. These are FSSAI’s ways and means of protecting and educating the consumer about the product he relies on for consumption.