Info Tag on Food Items to be Mandatory

Info Tag on Food Items  to be MandatoryInfo Tag on Food Items  to be Mandatory

The head of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) pointed to the measures undertaken to label food items: “The food ‘traffic light’ plan will be launched within the next 18 months,” he said.

Dr. Rasoul Dinarvand, speaking at a ceremony on World Food Day (Oct.16), said information labels on every food item would be made compulsory to indicate the amount of sugar, salt, fat, and trans fats in the product.

On how the color tagging system would work, he said: red indicates a warning on the amount a consumer should take; yellow is for ‘alert’ and green will signal safety of the food item and “no concerns on the intake.”

Dinarvand noted the huge responsibility of the organization, which functions under the health ministry and added “our responsibility, in major part, is supervisory, which includes testing of items and their health value, and monitoring substances and items used for disease prevention and cure. Monitoring food items is our major task.”

 Household Expenses

Dinarvand pointed to the vast consumption of food by humans and said one-fourth of household expenses are on food items. The share of food produce in GDP is also the same. The health ministry is deeply concerned about food safety, he said, reports ISNA.

Touching upon Non-communicable disease (NCD), in Iran and the world, he said the main causes of cardiac problems, cancer, diabetes and so on “is people’s life style, a great part of which is due to neglecting nutrition.” It has been proved that countries which have improved and optimized healthy food habits have been able to extend the lives of their population by 10 years, he said.

As food resources are limited, “food production is in dire need of new technology and novel methods.” Although organic food has been in focus in recent years, however, its share in the food basket is still less.

 Fake Produce

Dinarvand warned about spurious food products resulting from scientific advances.

“Every day we witness new methods of food manipulation from using new technologies. To detect and recognize fake or illicit products “we need to make advances as well.” He announced the signing of a MOU between the FDA and the president’s science deputy whereby $6.75 million has been allocated “so that our laboratories are equipped with the latest methods of detecting spurious and contaminated food.” By this and using global experiences, “we will be in a good position to detect harmful edible products within the next two or three years.”

He further said it is unfortunate the FDA faces funding shortage as like other supervisory organizations, it is also included in the government plan for a ‘lean bureaucracy’. However, the organization has progressed on all fronts “although it is still in need of great support.”

Dinarvand called for parliamentary support in funding and infrastructure. He urged the judicial system to collaborate in the “fight against manipulation and violation of rules.”

Using the capacities of the private sector and the public in monitoring the food market is another area where the FDA has made headway, he stressed.

 Health Policy

The health sector has been prioritized by the government. Therefore, the health ministry has the responsibility to introduce nutritious food products, while weeding out junk food.

Granting the “Health Apple,” an award for high quality food products is another measure taken to encourage healthy food and 100 products have been given this tag.

Dinarvand concluded with a call for collaboration and coordination among all organizations supervising the health and hygiene of food products. He pointed to the fruitful interaction and MOUs signed between FDA and Iran National Standard Organization as well as Iran Veterinary Organization in this regard.