Centre for Science and Environment (CSE): CSE  has alleged excessive and “dangerous” level of salt

  • IASbaba
  • December 24, 2019
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General Studies 2 :

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

General Studies 3

  • Food processing and related industries in India

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE): CSE  has alleged excessive and “dangerous” level of salt


  • A new report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has alleged excessive and “dangerous” level of salt and under reporting of transfats in various well-known packaged foods brands.
  • The report has said the levels of salt are much higher than the thresholds set by industry body Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA):

  • To calculate this, the organisation relied on the concept of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), a daily ceiling on the amount of salt, fat, carbohydrate and trans-fat.
  •  It says that, ideally, an adult should consume no more than 5g of salt, 60g of fat, 300g carbohydrate and 2.2 g of transfats every day. 
  • the RDA from breakfast, lunch and dinner should not be more than 25% and that from snacks (assumed to be those munched between meals), must be no more than 10%. Thus, a snack should ideally have no more than 0.5g of salt and 6g of fat.

Food Safety and Standards:

  • Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 only require companies to disclose energy (kilo calories), protein, carbohydrates, total fat, trans-fat and saturated fat contained per 100g or per millilitre or per serve.
  • In 2018, the FSSAI came up with a draft law, the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018. 
  • The draft recommended that a packet should have clear information on how much each nutrient, such as salt, sugar, contributed to the RDA. 
  • The draft said salt must be declared as sodium chloride for instance, and that those ingredients which breached the RDA should be marked in ‘red’.
  • Food companies had reservations mainly because they felt ‘red’ signified danger, fearing that this would give consumers the impression that they were consuming toxic food.

Draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2019:

  • A  third committee was formed, headed by B. Sesikeran, a new draft (Draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2019) was prepared.
  • This replaced sodium chloride with salt, total fat with saturated fat and total sugar with added sugar which CSE says, dilutes information on the health harm posed by packaged foods.
  • The proposed law allows companies three years to adjust to the new laws. the contribution of each individual nutrient to the RDA and whether it is breaching safe limits will have to be displayed on the front of the package
  • The CSE’s calculations are based on recommended nutritional values in the draft versions of these laws.

Chile example:

  • Chile, has a system where a black hexagon in a white border appears on the front of a package. In the hexagon is a phrase that says a product is “high in salt” or “high in trans-fat.” The more the hexagons the less desirable the product becomes for the consume

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think companies agree  with the new law ?
  • Do you think children are becoming more conscious about the health impact of their favourite snacks and influencing parents’ buying choices?

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