Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Food Safety and Standards Act: Eateries to count your calories


August 6, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Our Special Correspondent
Hyderabad, Aug 5: Now, people will have the chance to control their daily calorie intake.
Pizzas, samosas, idlis, utappas, dosas, burgers and other food items served by restaurants should invariably carry the calorie information, besides the nutrition content.
The Central government has finally woken up on the Food Safety and Standards Act that was passed two years ago.
It has now set up the long-awaited Food Safety and Standards Authority to oversee the implementation of the FSSA, 2006, which among other things makes mandatory labelling of general food items served by food joints.
If the Centre has its way, every food item delivered through parcel service or carry home should be hygienically packed and the box/sachet should contain details on proteins, carbohydrates and fats including the cholesterol percentage. This will make people to understand what type of food and in what quantity they are consuming, so that they can regulate their total calorie intake. However, the rule does not apply to food served inside hotels or restaurants.
Presently only packaged foods contain such details and no freshly-made food items like idlis, pizzas, dosas and vadas provide nutritional information. Once the Act is fully implemented, every food item people order from restaurants or food joints will come in with full of nutritional facts and whether the food contains any genetically
modified ingredients. Every item should carry a label containing all these details.
The United States has already implemented such legislation to ensure that Americans do not consume more than the recommended 2000 calories a day. For Indians the recommended daily calorie intake is a little higher ranging between 2200 to 2400.
The idea behind the exercise is to "lay down science-based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption," says the Central legislation. It also regulates the manufacture, distribution, sale or import of any novel food, genetically modified articles of food, irradiated food, organic foods, foods for special dietary uses, functional foods, neutraceuticals, health supplements and proprietary foods.
Hoteliers, however, fear that they may not be able to implement the Rule since different customers have different food choices. "For big hotels it is OK. But for small hotels and restaurants hiring a nutritionist and analysing the contents in the food items is quite a Herculean task. For may it is practically impossible," said Jagdish Rao of Taj Mahal Group of Hotels.
But the Food Authority has planned to go ahead with the move by engaging a multi-skilled consultancy agency of for preparation of a blue print and assistance in structuring and operationalising the new regulations. The over all content of minerals or vitamins or proteins or metals or their compounds or amino acids should not exceed the recommended daily allowance for Indians). In case of enzymes they should be within the permissible limits.

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