The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued and advisory encouraging Food Business Operators (FBOs) to incorporate provisions that permit easy access to nutritional information for visually impaired individuals.
FSSAI suggests that one effective means of facilitating such access is to incorporate Quick Response (QR) codes on product labels. These QR codes should include product details such as ingredients, nutritional information, allergens and their warning, manufacturing date, best before/ expiry/ use by date and contact information for customer inquiries.
It may be recalled that the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020 outline information to be included on labels of food products. This includes product name, shelf-life, nutrition facts, vegetarian/ non-vegetarian declarations, ingredient lists, allergen warnings and other product-specific labelling requirements. All of this empowers consumers in making informed choices while selecting food products.
Moreover, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 recognises the rights and and needs of persons with disabilities. It also emphasises accessibility and promotion of health for persons with disabilities. Hence, it is imperative that food products are labelled in a manner that also ensures accessibility to visually impaired consumers.
It is pertinent to note that the inclusion of QR codes for accessibility of information does not replace or negate the requirement to provide mandatory information on product label as prescribed by the relevant regulations.