ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fast Road to Disease

India's fast food products must be subject to mandatory labelling.

The role of fast or “junk” food with its concentration of fats, sugar and salt in the rapid multiplication of noncommunicable lifestyle diseases has been the subject of countless studies over the past few decades, especially in the west. (A classic book from the United States with a title that says it all is Fast Food Nation.)

Now, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), continuing with its pioneering examination of our air, water and food, has produced the first comprehensive study in India that analyses the nutritional claims of top-selling fast food brands/chains. The CSE finds that the 16 major brands of noodles, burgers, fried chicken, potato chips and packaged aloo bhujia carry more salt and trans fats in one serving than that allowed by the National Institute of Nutrition and the World Health Organisation. Worse, some of these brands falsely claim that they contained zero trans fats while others do not even mention them. Although the CSE report, backed by laboratory testing, restates what is already known, the facts are disturbing and ought to provoke some action. The CSE has demanded mandatory labelling for serving size, trans fats, saturated fats, sugars and salts in addition to the compulsory mention of nutritional information for all processed foods including takeaways. It has also asked that junk food be banned from schools and places where children have easy access to such products.

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