Traffic Light Codes for All Food Products

Traffic Light Codes for All Food Products  Traffic Light Codes for All Food Products

Currently, only 15% of the food products have ‘traffic light’ tags on them, said Rasoul Dinarvand, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Food labels with information indicating how much fat, salt, sugar and trans fat an item contains will be made compulsory in the near future,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

On how the color-coding system would work, he said, it will make it easier for consumers to choose healthier options. Red labels indicate a warning on the amount a consumer should take; yellow is for ‘alert’ and green will signal safety of the food item with “no concerns on the intake.”

Further, reducing salt and sugar in food products by 40% and 10%, respectively, has been placed on FDA’s agenda.

“Iranians consume three times more salt than the world average, and 40% of the problem is related to food products and traditional breads,” he said. However, 60% of the problem is related to excessive salt added to home-cooked foods; people’s cooperation is essential to address the problem.

Dinarvand said all food manufacturers are mandated to reduce the amount of sugar in their products by 10% from the existing levels before the end of the year (March 19).

“This is a big step towards improving public health. Its impact will not be immediate, but in the long term it will be positive,” he said.  

For over 30 years people have used hydrogenated oils with high levels of trans fat (oils with 40% of unsaturated fatty acids), and the harmful effects of the oil can be seen today in the form of different kinds of cardiovascular diseases.

The Health Ministry’s efforts have seen a decline in the amount of trans fatty acids in edible oils to 5% and the ministry plans to reduce it to zero by the end of the year 2025.

Dinarvand also pointed to FDA’s other measures to improve public health.”We have banned solid hydrogenated oil imports as well its advertising.” Only healthy oils including sunflower, canola and olive oils will be allowed to be advertised on TV.

“Oil is essential to our diet, as the human body needs oil and 30% of our daily energy comes from oils but we can get the required amount from hazelnuts, walnuts, and olives.”

The amount of high-density lipoprotein or HDL (good fat) in the blood should be high and the amount of LDL (bad fats) should be low. Hazelnuts, walnuts, olives and pistachios increase HDL level in the blood.