Got a star rating for Chips and Chocolate?

In today’s Finshots, we talk about the Indian Nutrition Rating (INR) and the controversy surrounding it.

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the story

Let’s be honest. We all like to snack now and then. It could be a packet of instant noodles, popcorn, or a bag of potato chips. It’s a gentle way to deal with your cravings.

And Indians are addicted to this stuff. According to a survey by Mondelez International and The Harris Poll, 8 out of 10 Indians Those surveyed said they replace whole meals with snacks. Not any kind of snack. Mostly canned food. According to Euromonitor The sale of ultra-processed food in India appears to have tripled from 2 kg per capita in 2005 to 6 kg in 2019. It is expected to reach 8 kg by 2024.

But we all know that it is not a healthy alternative.

Processed foods generate obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems. It can make the entire population sick and unhealthy. So what do you do about it?

Well, it looks like the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has a new formula – a star rating affixed to the front of food and snack packages that tells you exactly how healthy a product is or isn’t.

Now, we’ve already talked about star ratings in the past by describing Australia’s health star rating system, which is a fairly reliable guide on edible product rating. in their own words

The Health Star Rating system compares products within similar food categories and allows us to quickly compare the overall nutritional profile of foods within that category. For example, we can compare one breakfast cereal to another, muesli bar to another, margarine spread to another… Health Star ratings can help you choose between similar products that are usually offered together (for example, whole grain bread and white bread)

source :

Star ratings vary between half a star and 5 stars. It takes into account various nutritional information to determine what deserves a higher rating and what doesn’t. At least according to guide australia, the health star rating is generally 3.5 or lower considered unhealthy This way you can make a reasonable assessment of the quality of the food you eat.

And since the ratings will be named right up front, they should serve as a handy guide, no?

Well, not everyone thinks so. Not least are the People in the Nutrition Advocacy for the Public Interest (NAPi).

In March, they are Wrote Ministry of Health and Public Policy Research Center Niti Aayog on the subject. And they did highlight one major thing.

Their opinion is that star ratings are easy to manipulate. For example, a chocolate bar that is high in sugar can contain some nuts and boost its rating. They can also replace the sugar with other alternative sweeteners and create a product that ranks better.

In fact, some doctors Even indicating that a one-star rating can create a positive perception. A consumer might think, “Hey, there’s at least something good about this and not everything is bad.”

But what if the star system worked elsewhere? Wouldn’t it be useful to know that?

Well, they tried it in Australia and let’s just say it It didn’t quite work Outside.

Mark Lawrence, professor of public health nutrition at Deakin University in Australia, told The Ken that 73% of ultra-processed foods on supermarket shelves display ratings of 2.5 stars or higher. Effectively, said Lawrence, who has studied the application of star ratings, the ratings fail to convey anything of value — in terms of nutrition — to the consumer. [what does a 1.5 star really tell you about the actual sugar content?].

In Australia, products like Diet Coke (loaded with artificial sweeteners) and “sugar-free” gummy candies received four and five stars, respectively, while a can of olives received one star, and Free Range eggs got four stars.

So you can see why some people aren’t happy with the new recommendation. But if the star-based system didn’t work, what would you ask?

Well, icons.

More specifically, color-coded icons with explanatory text (eg, vegetarian and non-vegetarian icons). In fact, the country’s food regulator, the FSSAI, published a draft paper in 2018, in an effort to overhaul food labeling and presentation guidelines. And she had some powerful suggestions.

For example, consider the recommendation for color-coding of some key nutrient information – if a ration contains sugar, salt, or fat that exceeds a certain threshold (say 30% of the recommended daily intake), the red block indicates to consumers that they are not necessarily making a choice. healthy. After all, if you’re consuming a large portion of your daily recommended sugar intake with one candy bar, you have every right to know up front that you’re making the choice. In fact, the food regulator Even noticedthat they “May introduce a color coding system as well as mark foods as ‘red’ within specified limits from time to time.” Perhaps in reference to the fact that the lumps may be colored red, orange and green, depending on the health risks they pose.

Also, guess what? When organizers in Chile introduced a similar system in the country, they found some very optimistic results. A year after the introduction of the country warning systemPer capita soft drink consumption [stuff such as Pepsi and Coke] by 24.9% in the first evaluation.”

Yeah, maybe that’s what we really need if we’re trying to kick our unhealthy snacking habits.

For now, though, FSSAI is still pushing the star-based system. Will this change? we do not know.

until that time…

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