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Sugary Processed Foods UPSC NOTE

 How does the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India monitor sugar, salt and fat content in food items, particularly malt-based milk beverages and baby food?

  • On analysing the product in question, (a drink like Bournvita, for example,) it is observed that it contains 86.7g of carbohydrates per 100g, of which 49.8g is sugar content

  • Of the total sugars, 37.4g is sucrose or added sugar. 

  • For every recommended per serve of 20g chocolate powder, the consumer is downing nearly 10g of total sugar

  • Apart from added sugar, the process of malting, which involves germinating cereals, drying, roasting and powdering them, also produces sugar. 

  • Malting was a process originally used to produce single malt whiskey, and is also used in making malt-based milk beverages.

  • Once you germinate a grain, the starch in the grain breaks down to sugar by the action of a group of enzymes called amylase

  • When you roast it, it develops a nice flavour as that sugar gets caramelised.

  • Maltose is nothing but two units of glucose, a form of sugar, bonded together

  • Apart from added sugar, the chocolate powder contains maltodextrin, liquid glucose, maltose generated from malting process of cereals and so on.

Why are experts calling for more stringent measures in labelling food items?

  • In its Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations 2018, the FSSAI said that only if total sugar is less than 5g per 100g in a product, it can claim to be ‘low on sugar.

  • Any product which is ‘low on sugar,’ can potentially be ‘healthy.’ 

  • But when products do not fulfil this requirement, and still advertise or market their products as ‘health drinks,’ it is problematic, the FSSAI scientific panel member added. 

  • This is because if a child, for instance, takes four servings of this so-called drink, he or she will end up consuming 40 grams of sugar, which is higher than the World Health Organization’s advised threshold of consuming 25 grams or six teaspoons of sugar per day. 

  • In Indian households, one often adds extra teaspoons of sugar to a chocolate-powder drink too.

What lies ahead?

  • According to Food Safety and Standards (Foods for Infant Nutrition) Regulations, 2019, sugar is allowed in milk cereal-based complementary food.

  • The regulation says that lactose and glucose polymers shall be preferred carbohydrates for food and infant nutrition. 

  • Sucrose and/or fructose shall not be added, unless needed as a carbohydrate source, and provided the sum of these does not exceed 20% of total carbohydrate.

  • The regulation permits sugar, hence the regulation needs to be re-looked.

  • Hence, the first step, Dr. Gupta explains, would be to bring about a comprehensive regulation to clearly define what is ‘healthy,’ and ‘unhealthy,’ which encompasses all beverages and food products. 

  • There is a draft notification on front of pack labelling and high fat, sugar, salt foods which has received comments from all stake holders and after that has been put in cold storage.

  • The underlying problem is marketing and pushing it to unsuspecting consumers.

  • A Hindustan Unilever Limited annual report of 2022 states that the company partnered with the Zilla Parishad of Pune in the midday meal programme to add Horlicks.

  • Cited as a ‘health food drink,’ to existing take-home rations, which were planned to be provided to children across 4,600 anganwadi centres covering 1.45 lakh children aged between three and six.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Sugary Processed Foods UPSC NOTE
Sugary Processed Foods UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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