||FOCUS ON PUBLIC HEALTH MORE IMPORTANT THAN ON SICKNESS - Ramesh Kumar Sharama
||Fri 04 Mar 2011
||FSSR 2010 : SPECIFIC LABELLING REQUIREMENTS (4.4.4)
FSS Act should not allow the sale of disease causing additives and their use in foods without mention of a general warning on label. Just a prohibition for a group of particular patients is not enough, because the additive, when regularly consumed, can make a healthy consumer...
FSSR 2010 : SPECIFIC LABELLING REQUIREMENTS (4.4.4)
FSS Act should not allow the sale of disease causing additives and their use in foods without mention of a general warning on label. Just a prohibition for a group of particular patients is not enough, because the additive, when regularly consumed, can make a healthy consumer prone to that disease.
The regulation 4.4.4 of Food Safety and Standards Act is concerned with product specific labelling requirements. It allows sale of a number of disease causing additives particularly artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, bakery improvers and bleaching agents etc. and their use in foods with just a mention of prohibition for sick people or use for a particular industry. In fact, these additives can turn a healthy consumer prone to a disease. Therefore a general warning of health hazard should be mentioned on packages of these additives and labels of food products containing those.
For examples a part of FSSR 4.4.4. (27) is as follows:-
Provided that the package of aspartame (Methyl ester), marketed as Table Top Sweetener and every advertisement for such Table Top Sweetener shall carry the following label, namely-
“Not for phenylketoneurics”
Here the regulation focuses on a disease, not on the public health. This warning simply means that the product should not be consumed by patients of phenylketoneurics. But the product can make a healthy person prone to the kidney or urine troubles. So a general warning in such cases, though additive used in prescribed limits in food product, is required, namely-
“Consumption of Artificial Sweetener may be injurious to health”
Aspartame can cause kidney troubles”
Furthermore, perhaps nothing a consumer can understand via instruction like “surface treated with Natamycin” (4.4.4. (31) for hard cheese) or “contains caffeine” (4.4.4. (37) for food having added caffeine) or “contains oligofructose (4.4.4. (42) for biscuits, breads and cakes containing oligofructose fiber), unless the impact including harmful effect of the concerned ingredients on human body is mentioned on the label. In the same way instructions like “coated with wax” (4.4.4. (43) for fruits) and “Milk powder in this package contains lecithin” (4.4.4. (2) (viii) for milk powder containing lecithin) don’t communicate a clear message to consumer.
Natamycin is known for both its antifungal and toxicological effects. Caffeine is a habit forming CNS stimulant. It is a by- product from the manufacture of caffeine free coffee. Needless to say, it is harmful for body. As far as fiber is concerned, though anti-hypertensive and anti-carcinogenic to some extent, its over dosage may cause significant loss of minerals and vitamins in body. Carnauba wax coating on fruits, though considered safe for human health and quite protective for fruits, poses a problem in connection with fruits, particularly apples, used for processing. Lecithin is a by- product from the manufacture of refined or degummed (lecithin free) vegetable oil and reported to be vasodepressor. Therefore mention of health hazards should be made statutory, if harmful substances are used in foods.
4.4.4. (16) provides the instruction to be mentioned on the package of maida treated with improver and bleaching agents-
“ Wheat flour treated with improver/bleaching agents, to be used by bakeries only”
Since improvers and bleaching agents may contain very harmful peroxides, therefore it is not enough just to mention “to be used by bakeries only”. In fact every package of treated maida must carry the statutory warning like this-
“Culinary use of treated maida is injurious to health, to be used by bakeries only. Mention the warning “injurious to health” on the label of any food product made of it.
In general, FSS Act should focus on public health.
Ramesh Kumar Sharma
Former Quality Control Chemist
Tilam Sangh Rajasthan, Bikaner