Mar 17, Colombo: Color coding of foods and beverages according to the salt and fat content of the foods will be mandatory from April 2, the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine said.
The decision to implement a color coding system symbols for solid foods, semi-solid foods and liquid foods was taken after a special discussion headed by the Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne held recently with the participation of representatives of the World Health Organization.
If solid foods, semi-solid foods and liquid foods contain high amounts of sugar, salt and fat, a color symbol should be displayed on the main panel of the food label.
At a media briefing held today under the patronage of Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Director General of the Ministry of Health (Foodservice), Dr. Lakshman Gamlath said the new law will definitely come into effect from 5 April.
The Ministry of Health had taken steps to introduce a color coding system for foods under the Food Act No.26 of 1980 and the measure was implemented since August 2016 for sugar content on beverages. From April 2, all foods and beverages are required to be color coded according to the sugar, salt and fat contents.
Accordingly, all foods with a sugar content exceeding 22 grams per 100 gram of food would be marked in red, with sugar content from 8 grams to 22 grams would be marked in yellow and those with less than 8 grams would be marked in green.
If the salt content is over 1.25 grams per 100 gram of the food, the items should be marked red, from 0.25 gram to 1.25 gram yellow and if less than 0.25 g per 100 gram, the items should be marked green.
For fats, foods over 17.5 grams of fat per 100 gram should be marked red, from 3 -17.5 grams per 100 gram green and fat less than 3 grams per 100 gram should be marked green.
However, these regulations will not be applied to milk, vegetables, fruits, rice, small packeted foods, tea, coffee, bottled water, medically prescribed foods, baby foods and infant formula.
Minister Senaratne said color coding system for sugar content will be implemented on all sweets including cookies, toffees, cakes, and traditional sweets.
However, the Minister said color coding system is not adequate in controlling the uptake of sugar and therefore, a special tax will be introduced for foods that contain high levels of sugar, salt and fat.
The Minister of Health expects the public to pay the same attention given to the color codes for beverages when buying solid food and semi-solid foods.