In a bid to crack down on tall claims in the print and electronic media, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has filed cases against 15 food and beverage companies, which have been found violating Section 24 of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006 – which pertains to misleading advertisements – and the Food Safety and Standards (Packing and Labelling) Regulations (FSSR), 2011.
Nineteen top nutritional products marketed by 15 companies were found to have violated the rules and regulations, with claims that they make school children stronger and boost the stamina of sportspersons. The country's apex food regulator has scrutinised the products and posted the names of the companies and products, along with the descriptions of their violations, on their website.
The errant companies are Heinz India Pvt. Ltd (Mumbai); Glaxo SmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd (Haryana); Emami Biotech Ltd (Kolkata); Marico Ltd (Mumbai); Hari Vegetable Products Ltd (Rajasthan); Trophic Wellness Pvt. Ltd (Mumbai); Kellogg's India (Mumbai); Britannia Industries Ltd (Kolkata); Cadbury India Ltd (Mumbai); Today Tea Limited (Delhi); Abbott India Ltd (Mumbai); Dabur India Ltd (Delhi); Amway India Enterprises Pvt. Ltd (Noida); Hindustan Unilever Limited (Mumbai); and Rajdhani Flour Mills Ltd (Delhi).
An advertisement for Complan, a milk supplement marketed by Heinz India, states that one can grow twice as tall as a non-Complan drinker after consuming it. The ad for Complan Memory says it contains memory chargers and brain chargers which help improve memory. The picture on the product's label depicts students with books. It misleads children into believing that if they consume this health drink they would become good in studies.
A source from Heinz India Pvt. Ltd, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We are neither aware about the case filed against us by the food regulatory authority nor have we received any notice from FSSAI.”
Glaxo SmithKline – which markets Boost – claims that it provides, thrice as much stamina as other chocolate-flavoured milk supplements. The company has not submitted any specific study on this product to substantiate its claims. Neither has Horlicks, which claims that children become stronger, taller and sharper after drinking it. This is misleading and deceptive in nature.
Complaints have been filed against all the producers before the adjudicating officers for the violation of the FSS Act. All 15 companies have been issued notices by the food regulatory authority FSSAI to remove the misleading advertisements.
S N Mohanty, chief executive officer, FSSAI told FnB News, “After scrutinising all the 19 products of the 15 companies, we found that the advertisements placed by them in the newspaper, television and other media are misleading and deceptive in nature. The claims made by them are not proved by the signs on the products. We have filed cases against all the 19 products before the adjudicating officers of the areas where the companies are located. The maximum fine for the violation of these norms is Rs 10 lakh.”
Meanwhile, Today Tea claimed that its product, Today Premium Tea was 100 per cent natural and rich in antioxidants. The authority has filed a case against the company in Delhi. Sanjay Jain, vice-president, Today Tea Limited, said, “I am not aware about the notice of FSSAI. It is true that we have placed an advertisement in the local newspaper about the benefits of our product Today Premium Tea. I will go through the website of FSSAI and will find out about the violation.”