Civil Society Recommendations for the Manifesto of Political Parties in GE-2024 on FOPL

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Patna, February 7, 2024: Today, at the Kasturba Gandhi Assembly Hall, Gandhi Museum, Patna, a public dialogue was organized by a coalition comprising the Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), People’s Initiative for Participatory Action for food Labelling (PIPAL), All India Hawkers Forum, Bandi Adhikar Andolan, and Indian Roti Bank, advocating for “Front-of-Package Labeling” to warn against non-communicable diseases, malnutrition, and obesity.

Keeping the subject of public dialogue in mind, Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the founder and Convenor of the Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), highlighted the latest data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5). He emphasized the importance of implementing FOPL for the future health of children in the country, stating that various stakeholders have been continuously made aware of this issue. So far, 12 honorable members of parliament and 3 legislators have sent letters of support to the honorable Health Minister. Approximately 4,835 individuals have urged the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to replace the Indian Nutrition Rating (Star Rating) with FOPL by warning label.

Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal’s National Vice President, Mr. Jeetendra Nath, emphasized that this demand is crucial for the future health of “children” in the country. It is essential to implement this regulation as soon as possible, along with raising public awareness. Wherever support for these issues is needed, we will be present.

The State Secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) of Bihar, Mr. Ram Babu, stated that there might hardly be any household today where packaged food is not being used. The increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, malnutrition, and obesity cannot be ignored. We will discuss this issue in our party’s upcoming election manifesto.

Following this, representatives of all political parties launched the Patna Declaration, endorsing the declaration by signing on to it. All representatives have pledged to include these demands in their respective party’s upcoming election manifestos. Representatives present from various organizations included:

• Mr. Sanjay Paswan, Member of Legislative Council, and Mr. Chandresh Singh, State Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party.

• Mr. Jahangir Khan, National Executive Committee Member, Janata Dal United.

• Former MP, Mr. Ali Anwar.

• Mr. Sanjay Paswan, State Secretary, Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas).

• Ms. Rinku Kumari, Bihar Women’s Association.

• Dr. Amit Kumar Paswan, Unorganized Worker and Employee unit of Congress Party (Bihar).

• Mr. Arun Kumar Singh, Jan Swaraj. • Representatives from Bihar Election Watch, NAPM, Farmers’ Union, and Civil Society.

In pursuit of safeguarding the health and well-being of millions of Indian children, youths, and women from the escalating risks of obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, liver dysfunction, kidney dysfunction, and various cardiovascular ailments, we, the undersigned civil society organizations, advocate the following recommendations for inclusion in the manifesto of political parties:

  1. Implementation of Strong, Science-Based Front-of-Pack Label (FOPL) Regulation: A robust FOPL regulation, grounded in scientific principles and effectively enforceable, incorporating a Warning Label as its design, shall be declared, notified, and executed. This measure aims to empower consumers in making informed choices and protecting public health.
  2. Identification of Unhealthy Processed Foods: The regulation should facilitate the identification of unhealthy processed and ultra-processed packaged foods, allowing consumers to discern and choose products that are genuinely healthful in nature.
  3. Regulation of Negative Nutrients: The regulation must address the levels of negative nutrients such as salts, sugar, and fat in processed and ultra-processed packaged foods. Warning labels should be applied if these nutrients breach specified thresholds. Positive nutrient inclusion for rating product healthiness should be avoided to prevent consumer confusion.
  4. Scientific Basis and Global Best Practices: The determination of negative nutrient thresholds should be rooted in rigorous scientific evidence and align with global best practices. Reference should be sought from Nutrition guidelines and the Nutrition Profile Model suggested by esteemed institutions such as the World Health Organization, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), or other reputable national nutrition institutions. The development of the Nutrition Profile Model (NPM) should involve consultation with health, medical services, and public nutrition experts.
  5. Mandatory FOPL for Relevant Foods: The FOPL regulation should be mandatory for all processed and ultra-processed foods containing any or all of the three negative nutrients—salt, sugar, and fat. A reasonable time frame, determined in consultation with health, medical services, and public nutrition experts, shall be provided to the food and beverage industry to align its products with the regulatory requirements.
  6. Affirmative Action and Incentivization for Healthier Products: The regulation must not only serve as a protective measure for public health but also encourage the production and manufacturing of healthy processed and ultra-processed packaged foods. Incentives, particularly fiscal instruments, should be extended to small and medium-sized food manufacturers to promote the formulation of healthier products.

We advocate for the integration of these recommendations into the electoral manifestos of political parties for the General Election 2024. By doing so, we collectively commit to fostering a healthier and more informed society.

Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Patna Bihar 07.02.2024

For more details, please contact follows:

Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), +91 9935599333

Irfan Ahmad Fatmi. All India Hawkers Forum. +91 94314 54109

Santosh Upadhyay, Bandi Adhikar Andolan, +91 82521 98690

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