NEW DELHI: India’s top food regulator is set to make it mandatory for all liquor bottles to have a message against drunken driving, while turning down a proposal to also add a pictorial warning against the same, on the lines of cigarette packets.
The development comes following a direction from the Delhi High Court, which had asked to Food and Safety Standards Authority of India to look into the matter, on a petition filed by an NGO Community Against Drunken Driving.
“We carried out consultations on the issue and also studied global practices. However, we came to the conclusion that liquor manufacturers in other countries, too, are not mandated by food regulators to have such messages or warnings and decide on their own,” said Pawan Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI.
“We have however decided to ask for mandatory text warnings on liquor bottles against drunken driving after it is approved by the government,” he added.
Sources said that the decision comes following a meeting between FSSAI officials, representatives of several liquor brands and civil society members in which designs of six designs of pictorial warnings were discussed.
“While four designs were proposed by the NGO CADD, interestingly two of the liquor brands, also had come up with two designs but most other brands put their feet down and said they don’t want such a rule,” a source told the newspaper.
Prince Singhal, founder-president of CADD, on the other hand said that, while it was good that FSSAI had taken a positive step and decided to go ahead with a guideline the text warning on the bottles, he will approach the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to consider the pictorial warning.
“We are pushing for it because it is in public interest and impacts crores of people,” he said. “I hope that as health ministry imposed the rule (of pictorial warning on harms of smoking) on cigarette companies, they also do the same for liquor manufacturers,” he said.
According to the data by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways while drunken driving causes only about 4.8 per cent of total five lakh road crashes in the country every year, fatality in such cases is very high. Over 70 per cent of the victims in such crashes end up dead, statistics show.