Front-of-Package Labels in Asia
As Chairman of the Scientific Committee of Choices International, Barry Popkin has been working with a set of Asian countries to establish and attempt to harmonize their front-of-the-label profiling (FOP) of packaged processed foods. A series of meetings over 3 years has led to the imminent establishment of programs in Thailand, Malaysia and China and the refinement of the program in Singapore. Other ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries, including Vietnam and Brunei, are beginning to explore establishing the same program. Indian retailers and food companies are leading a voluntary effort, while in these other countries national programs are being established.
The programs all set guidelines for what constitutes a healthy food product by following WHO guidelines to reduce sodium, unhealthy saturated fats, and added sugar in our diets while enhancing intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
In at least one of these countries, the FOP profile will be used to establish which foods can be marketed in an array of media. Others are considering linking these with other regulatory or tax initiatives.