Indian Sellers Collective concerned about WHO report suggesting nutrition-based food tax

Indian Sellers Collective has raised concerns over a recent WHO report, which suggested the implementation of a taxation system based on nutritional content.

The WHO report titled ‘Growth of ultra-processed foods in India: An analysis of trends’ suggests increasing taxes on unpackaged and unlabeled foods, which are currently taxed at 5 per cent under the scheme Goods and Services Tax (GST).

It also advocated for the implementation of point-of-sale marketing restrictions, limitation on freebies and discounts offered by small grocery stores or Kirana stores, and a crackdown on the unorganized food manufacturing sector, it said. a press release from the Indian Sellers Collective.

Furthermore, the report also states that sugar-free soft drinks should not be placed in the same GST category as soft drinks, currently taxed at the highest rate of 40 percent, which consists of a GST rate of 28 percent as well as a sin. 12 percent tax.

Objecting to the report, the Indian Sellers Collective said it was an “attack on Indian cuisine and heritage” and promoted artificial and unhealthy foods.

The association claimed it was a “proxy report on behalf of the global cola and food multinationals” who are pushing their agenda to undermine traditional Indian food and facilitate the takeover of the Indian food market by popular foreign foods.

He also sent a representative to the Indian government to look into the matter.

Abhay Raj Mishra, a member of the Indian Sellers Collective and national coordinator, claimed that the report ignores the generations-old composition of Indian foods and calls for the promotion of artificially tinkered foods based on claims untested science.

Indian Sellers Collective is an umbrella organization of leading trade associations and representative bodies of Indian sellers across the country. It helps small sellers who have grievances against unfair business practices and markets.

In July 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO and the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report classifying that aspartame, one of the most common artificial sweeteners in the world, is possibly carcinogenic or carcinogenic to humans.

Aspartame is used by major soft drink manufacturers to produce low-sugar versions of cola and sugar-free added soft drinks.

In May 2023, WHO introduced new guidelines on non-sugar sweeteners (NSS). These guidelines advise against the use of NSS to control weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

“This WHO report contradicts its own advice calling for a ban on sugar-free sweeteners, commonly found in sugar-free soft drinks. This contradictory position appears to fuel a biased narrative from the global body, suggesting an agenda to promote the products of multinational corporations around the world. the Indian market,” Mishra said.

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Updated: September 19, 2023, 11:22 PM IST

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