FSSAI panel turns heat on junk food, bats for tax, ad ban
An expert panel set up by food regulator FSSAI has recommended additional tax on highly processed food items and sugar-laced beverages as well as a ban on advertising of junk foods on children's channels or during kids' shows on TV.
The report by the 11-member panel on 'Consumption of Fat, Sugar and Salt (FSS) and its health effects on Indian population' suggests ways to cut consumption of unhealthy food products and reduce rising burden of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.
The FSSAI had constituted the panel consisting of experts from different fields like medicine, nutrition and dietetics from well-known medical research and academic institutions.
"The report recommended having balanced diet which should provide around 60-70 per cent of total calories from carbohydrate, 10-12 per cent from protein and 20-30 per cent from fat," the FSSAI said.
This report will serve as a guideline document for all the stakeholders, including the industry, the FSSAI and consumers, in reducing consumption of fat, sugar and salt through processed food products.
The panel recommended "additional tax on highly processed commodities and sugar sweetened beverages".
"Imposing additional tax on the purchase of commodities such as pre-packaged foods with high salt and fat content, sugar sweetened beverages, etc can be a pragmatic approach to reduce their intake," the report said.
According to the panel, imposition of excise tax on unhealthy eating products would lead to positive health effects among population.
The nutrition-related programmes of the government can be supported through profit from taxing unhealthy food products.
As for the advertisements, the committee said, "Advertisement ban for foods high in FSS during children TV shows or kids TV channels is urged. In fact, we should progress towards a total ban law as being done in a few other countries like Chile."
It further said the celebrity endorsements of such foods need to be discouraged, adding that online social media websites should also comply with advertising ban for unhealthy foods.
The panel also pitched for reliable monitoring systems to examine FSS intake periodically at the national level.