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FBOs can’t be punished if values of fats are lower than those on labels
Friday, 10 February, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
Enforcement agencies cannot initiate punitive action against food business operators (FBOs) if the values of saturated and trans-fat are found below the values specified on the labels of the products. This was stated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The direction issued by the apex food regulator stated, “Several representations have been received regarding practical difficulties faced by the edible oil and fat industry with reference to declaration of exact quantity of saturated fat and trans fat content due to the variations in different batches, multiple sourcing of crude oils, seasonal availability of oils and variations in fatty acid profiles in different climatic conditions.”

Considering the fact that the purpose of this regulation was to restrict the quality of saturated fat and trans fat, enforcement officials were advised to not to take punitive action, if the values of saturated fat and trans fat were found to be lesser than the declared value on the labels.

B V Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, said, “FSSAI has streamlined this regulations following concerns about the higher quantities of trans fats and saturated fats in food products. The edible oil industry, under preview of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, will follow the new regulations.”

“The edible oil manufacturers had been asked by the regulator to keep total fats below five per cent. This came after recommendations given by National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, which suggested that to keep it below 10 per cent which was welcomed by the industry too,” he added.

“Later, under policy amendments, it was decided by the regulator to keep it to five per cent. Manufacturers like us asked the regulator to give us some time to make the following changes in our products,” Mehta said.

“Also, in the meantime, the regulator came out with a new amendment to disclose trans and saturated fats on the labels, which again will invite changes in packaging,” he added.

Further, speaking on the representation filed by the oil industry, Mehta said, “Both amendments came one after the other. So we asked FSSAI whether changing the packaging after reformulating products will incur losses to the industry.”

“The regulator gave a deadline of February 27, 2017 to comply with the regulation of disclosing details of the trans and saturated fats in the products,” he added.

Mehta said, “There are major issues in the transportation of the product after the stage of refining. While in some cases, the temperature of the location where the refineries are set up is much cooler than that of the location of sale and distribution which can lead to generation of different results.”

Keeping this in mind, FSSAI has advised its officers to only take actions of trans and saturated fats that cross the values mentioned on the label.

The FSSAI has asked NIN to study it again and bring in some better insights which can address the situation with ease. This notification is being worked on since the year 2009, and has not yet finalised.
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