The dietary working group will offer recommendations on regulations and labelling for all food, either manufactured in India or imported.
The move by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) follows a Delhi High Court order which gave it three months to convert its guidelines for the sale of food sale near to schools into law.
Child nutrition in the spotlight
The High Court has taken an interest in child nutrition recently, telling schools to promote nutrition awareness and recommend food items like fruit salads, vegetable cutlets, upama, idli and and low-fat milkshakes to pupils.
It has also directed the Delhi state government to draw up new rules to display the sugar, salt and fat content in products sold in restaurants or by caterers to close off a widely flaunted loophole that has allowed schools to ignore the guidelines.
It is expected that it will also bring under the scanner categories like noodles, pizzas, burgers and carbonated drinks.
FSSAI should wake up to science
The announcement comes at a time when the pressure is on the FSSAI to reform, with even one of its own top figures calling for sweeping changes to bring the business of food regulation up to international standards.
V Prakash, the head of a key panel of India’s national food safety authority, told The Indian Express that necessary reforms included an accreditation system that could not only screen labs but also its personnel on a regular basis.
”It is time we wake up and work on a science-based approach and move forward rapidly. If we have periodical evaluation in aviation for pilots, why not for analysts who test our food?” he said.
“India should not dilute the standards because many of our laboratories may not have advanced facilities for scientific analysis. We should be at par with international standards such as Codex.”