Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ensures the accessibility of safe food for Indian citizens, including individuals with special needs, such as visually impaired individuals.
As per the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020 prescribes the information to include in the labels of food products. The information includes product name, shelf life, nutrition facts, vegetarian and non-vegetarian logos, ingredient lists, allergen warnings, and other product-specific labelling requirements. It provides consumers with information on choosing food products. According to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, recognizes the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities, which emphasizes the accessibility and promotion of health for persons with disabilities. It also ensures that inclusive access to information is a fundamental right of citizens, and it is crucial that food products are labelled in a manner that ensures accessibility to all consumers, including those with visual impairments.
In order to enhance these accessibility, Food Business Operators (FBOs) are encouraged to incorporate provisions that facilitate easy access to nutritional information for visually impaired individuals. The incorporation of a QR code on product labels is one effective means to achieve accessibility to product information.
A Quick Response (QR) code is a two-dimensional matrix barcode that stores various data types, such as website URLs, alphanumeric text, contact information, and other data. It is presented in the form of a square shape or a pattern of black squares on a white background. The QR codes are scanned, and the information is obtained using a QR code reader or a smartphone camera.
These QR codes should contain comprehensive information, including but not limited to ingredients, nutritional information, allergens, manufacturing date, best before/expiry/use by date, allergen warning, and contact information for customer inquiries. The incorporation of a QR code on a product does not replace or negate the requirement to provide essential information on the product label as prescribed by regulatory bodies.