[2023 Guide] FSSAI Health Star Rating (HSR) and Front-of-Package Labelling (FoPL)

India’s apex food regulator, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), wants companies to be more transparent when they label their products to guide people to choose healthier food options. Soon, packaged food and beverage products sold in India will be labelled with a health star rating (HSR), which ranks a packaged food item based on sodium, sugar, and fats printed on the front of the package. This rating system will be the first of its kind in India, which is plagued by lifestyle diseases.

In India, where packaged foods have been required to display back-of-package (BoP) nutrition details for years, it lacks front-of-package labelling (FoPL). Global evidence indicates that FoPL labels can influence consumers’ choices by nudging them towards healthier options.

FSSAI: An official health star rating (HSR) for packaged food and beverages in India to be implemented in 2023

 The FSSAI is seeking input from industry associations for evaluation through a scientific panel so that its proposed health star rating (HSR) model can be incorporated into the final regulations drafted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Milk and dairy products are exempted from the proposed FoPL, as they were covered in the earlier FSSAI draft notified in 2019. In addition, the Scientific Panel recommends voluntary implementation of FoPL in 2023 and a transitional period of four years before making it mandatory,” said Arun Singhal, Chief Executive Officer, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The FSSAI further stated that they would align the proposed threshold levels with the ‘FoPL Models’ already adopted in other developed countries such as the UK, Chile, Mexico, France, Italy and Australia and WHO Population Nutrient Intake Goals Recommendations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines front-of-package (FoP) labels as nutrition labelling systems displayed on the front of food packages in the main field of view, presenting simple, often graphical information on the nutrient contents or nutritional value of products. 

Download the WHO guiding principles and framework manual for front-of-pack labelling for promoting healthy diets developed to support countries in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating an appropriate FoPL system.

Apply for an FSSAI Health Star Rating (HSR) certificate via FoSCoS

 The Food Safety Compliance System (FoSCoS) licensing application portal by FSSAI will be updated with a new feature where a food business can submit details of their products to generate a Health Star Rating (HSR) certification. FSSAI will analyze the nutritional content of a 100-milligram (mg) serving size of packaged foods. On the basis of the review, the Health Star Rating (HSR) certificate will be issued for the individually packaged food product. These ratings will be given by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), depending on the product’s facts.

A shift in consumer lifestyle trends towards healthier choices

The most striking trends at the moment are natural ones, such as the rise of natural foods and beverages. Widely adopted healthier lifestyles are leading people to want less added sugars and artificial ingredients in their drinks. This has driven brands to invest in new technologies and products that deliver healthier alternatives.

As a result, beverage companies are producing alternatives with fewer calories but packed with microorganisms that help keep digestive systems functioning properly, i.e., bottled water, well-being teas, and fermented beverages such as beet kvass, kombucha, kefir, and natural ginger ale that are full of probiotic goodness.

At the same time, this focus on being earthy and natural goes hand in hand with the strong call for reducing plastic waste, which has caused small stores to report declining sales of plastic-packaged items. These environmentally aware consumers demand products that come from sustainable sources and aren’t made of harmful chemicals. As a result of these concerns, there has been growing support for reducing plastic packaging and calling on companies and stores to stop using single-use plastics altogether in the food and beverage industry.

Recommended: 20 ways coding and marking solutions empowers the FMCG sector in India

The impact of the plastic ban in India on product packaging

 According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the global production of plastic waste each year amounts to approximately 400 million tons. Plastic pollution is harmful to both human and planetary well-being, and it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, pollutes soil and waters, and threatens marine life. Plastic waste is so abundant that the U.N. declared a planetary crisis earlier in 2017 on BBC News.

A draft bill banning single-use plastics in India was introduced in August 2021, followed by a final notice issued in December, which gave the sector six months to comply. The Indian government issued guidelines to states asking them to ban the use of nineteen single-use plastics (SUP) effective from July 1, 2022. Single-use plastics include things used only once, such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, etc., that don’t go through the recycling system.

Brands are innovating new ways to improve their products’ convenience, quality, and safety, as well as reduce their environmental impact. Food and beverage companies have an essential role to play in addressing this issue and are taking steps towards environmentally friendly packaging by educating consumers and promoting sustainability through marketing campaigns.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic has maintained its strong market share for years in the beverage industry because of its durability, resealability and lightweight. However, many companies are now considering non-plastic alternatives for their products. It directly impacts how the product is packaged and coded, affecting the marking and labelling process in the food and beverage sector.

India: Health foods and beverages market to cross $30 billion by 2026

In a report published by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) in March 2022, according to a recent study by Avendus Capital (a division of Avendus Group), India’s household spending on healthy food and beverage products is expected to increase threefold and will reach a market size of US$ 30 billion in the next five years.

India has one of the fastest-rising health foods and beverages markets, with a 20% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Health-focused food products and drinks made up just under 12% of India’s US$ 88 billion packaged food and beverage market in CY20. By CY26, Avendus Capital expects this ratio to increase to 16%, or US$ 30 billion.

From 108 million people in 2020, the number of health-conscious consumers is expected to increase to 176 million by 2026. Snacks made from healthier ingredients will be the most popular type of food for people who want to eat healthily. Healthy snacks will experience a substantial increase, with biscuits, fruit snacks, snack bars, and trail mixes leading the way, with healthy dairy products following close behind.

Covid has accelerated the shift toward mindful eating, which was already happening for some time. After the COVID-19 outbreak, research indicated that 70% of Indians would prioritize dietary changes to boost their overall health. About 40% of the business for packaged foods and beverage companies in India comes from large cities, with the rest from smaller towns and rural areas.

Top 6 benefits of front-of-package labelling (FoPL) that food and beverage brands cannot ignore in 2023

Front-of-package labelling (FoPL) refers to the placement of nutritional information and other labels on the front of a food or beverage package. FoPL has several benefits for consumers and food manufacturers alike:

  1. Increased Transparency

 FoPL makes it easier for consumers to access important information about the nutritional content of their food and drink, which can help them make more informed decisions about what they eat and drink.

  1. Improved Health Outcomes

 FoPL can help consumers make healthier choices by providing them with clear and concise information about the nutritional value of their food and drink. This can help reduce the risk of diet-related health problems such as obesity and heart disease.

  1. Enhanced Consumer Trust

 FoPL can help build trust between food manufacturers and consumers by providing transparent and accurate information about the products they are buying.

  1. Increased Competition

 FoPL can help level the playing field for food manufacturers by making it easier for consumers to compare the nutritional content of different products. This can encourage manufacturers to produce healthier products in order to compete in the market.

  1. Simplified Labelling

 FoPL can help simplify food labelling by placing important information in a prominent location, making it easier for consumers to find and understand.

  1. Greater Compliance

 FoPL can help food manufacturers comply with regulations and industry standards by providing a clear and consistent way to display nutritional information.

Overall, FoPL can help improve the health and well-being of consumers, enhance trust in the food industry, and encourage competition among manufacturers.

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 Ideal coding and marking systems for printing front-of-package labelling (FoPL) on food and beverage products

Several Control Print’s coding and marking systems are well-suited for printing front-of-package labelling (FoPL) on food and beverage products. These include:

Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) Printers

Control Print’s CIJ printing systems use a high-pressure jet of ink to print directly onto the surface of a product and are ideal for printing FoPL on irregularly shaped products such as bottles or cans. From cardboard to plastic, metals to glass, CIJ printers can produce single to multi-line texts and graphics at high speeds.

There are a variety of ink types available for use with CIJ printers, including:

  • A variety of coloured inks for legibility on different substrates and packaging materials.
  • Removable inks for reusable bottles and containers save substantial amounts of resources and materials by allowing them to be reused multiple times – extending beyond the advantages of recycling.
  • Condensation-resistant inks for cold-fill applications in the beverage industry.
  • UV-readable ink to create invisible codes on products and packaging so they can be traced back to their origin by manufacturers for anti-counterfeit purposes.

 Laser Coding Systems

Control Print’s laser coding systems use a beam of light to etch information onto a substrate. These systems are highly precise and can produce prints with a high level of detail. They are often used to print FoPL on products that require a long shelf life, as the prints are resistant to fading and smudging.

Laser printers are widely used because they’re easy to operate with minimal maintenance, operate at extremely fast speeds with almost zero downtime, and don’t need any consumables (inks), which means they save on the long-term costs of owning them.

Laser codes can be either discreet or highly visible, depending on whether they’re used for authentication purposes or not, whereas their permanence makes them an invaluable tool for fighting counterfeit goods.

Laser printers are suitable for permanent markings onto metal, paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and many other substrates in the beverage industry, i.e., carbonated soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits, etc.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) lasers are the most common coding system used in the beverage manufacturing sector because they’re very versatile. Fibre laser technology has become increasingly popular as an alternative to conventional laser technology. Manufacturers can use it to code directly onto bare metals such as canned food and beverage products.

Thermal Inkjet (TIJ) Printers

Control Print’s TIJ printers use heat to vaporize ink, which is then expelled through tiny nozzles to create high-quality prints. TIJ printers are fast, reliable, and easy to use, making them popular for printing FoPL on food and beverage products.

Thermal Transfer Overprinters (TTO)

Control Print’s Thermal transfer overprinters use heat to transfer ink from a ribbon onto a substrate. These systems are highly reliable and can produce prints with a wide range of colours. They are often used to print FoPL on products that require high-quality graphics and images.

Large Character Printers (LCP)

Variable information printed onto secondary packaging is best done by Control Print’s case coding machines or a large character printer. These outer cases, i.e., cardboard boxes or cartons, usually need logos, graphics, and easily visible text.

Our large character printer or case coders can be used for high-quality printing onto a wide range of surfaces and materials, including glass, metal, wood, plastic, paper, leather, fabric, and even stone. They’re easy to set up and maintain, reliable, and have a low ownership cost. These factors make them ideal for use in a variety of industrial applications, from beverages to pharmaceuticals.

Factors to consider for front-of-package labelling (FoPL) on food and beverage products

Ultimately, the ideal coding and marking system for printing front-of-package labelling (FoPL) on food and beverage products will depend on the manufacturer’s specific needs. Factors to consider include the type of products being produced, the variety of substrates, the coding environment, the speed and volume of production, the desired level of print quality, and true cost-of-ownership.

If you want to print high-grade permanent codes to help prevent counterfeits, ensure traceability, and increase the attractiveness of the front-of-package labelling (FoPL) on your food and beverage products, contact us today. For more information, write to marketing@controlprint.com or call +91 8097466782 to book a demo.