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Ministry issues order to increase font size of details on packaged food items 

The Pioneer , Apr 02, 2017

Starting Saturday, the font size on the declarations on a packed food item containing more than 200 grams/ml up to 500 grams/ml would be increased from 2 mm to 4 mm and for above 500 grams/ml, the font size would be doubled to 8 mm. Similarly, the font size for name, address, net commodity, date of manufacturing and retail price which is less than 1 mm now, would henceforth be 1.5 mm for a pack of 200 grams/ml.

While an advisory to this effect has been issued to the Controllers of Legal Metrology to all States and Union Territories, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is in the process to amend the 2011 commodities packaging rules (the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) to ensure the details on the food items are more visible. The Ministry also wants to incorporate a barcode-kind of system to protect consumers from spurious products.

According to sources, right now, the font size of the declaration such as name, address, net commodity, date of manufacturing and retail price - is less than 1 mm. “The US follows 1.6 mm size. But we are going to keep 1.5 mm for a pack of 200 grams/ml,” said officials of Consumer Affairs Ministry on the condition of anonymity.

“Rule 7 specifies about the font size of the declaration but most companies do not follow strictly. In smaller packs, the font size is too small for consumers to read. So, we have decided to adopt the US standard on font size,” officials said.

Also, the ministry is considering introducing bar-code or any such mark to identify food products are made in India or other country to curb sale of fake food items in the country.

Apart from this, the ministry is further considering increasing maximum quantity of packaged food items up to 50 kg/litres from the existing 25 kg/litres.

“For smaller packs, consumers have to pay more. So, we are thinking of allowing some commodities like rice, atta and others to be packed up to 50 kg/litres. This will bring down the cost on consumers," the official explained. The ministry had last amended the rule in 2015.

“The decision was taken after several rounds of discussions with all stakeholders including FICCI, CII, ASSOCHEM, PHD Chambers of Commerce, National Seed Association of India and all trade and Industries Association in the interest of consumers. Even the industry and public have agreed that there is a need for the changes,” officials said.