Food regulator tells companies to back claims on products with scientific proof or face action
FMCG firms that make tall claims to embellish their brands will now have to back such promotional assertions with scientific proof or temper the tone.
This is because the government is planning to tighten the noose around firms that have been making exaggerated claims in their ad-campaigns. The food regulator — Food Safety and Standards Authority of India — has sent notices to leading companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Britannia Industries, Marico, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Heinz India, Dabur India, Emami Biotech, Kelloggs India, Cadbury India — accusing them of making inflated claims about their products.
These, the regulator feels, violates law (section 24 of FSS Act). It has also begun prosecution proceedings against select companies in this matter.
For instance, HUL has been pulled up by the government for claiming that its product Kissan creamy spread has ‘three times more essential nutrients than sadharan butter’.
Also under scanner are Britannia Vita Marie for claims such as ‘heart-friendly’ and ‘helps reduce cholesterol’ and Britannia Nutrichoice biscuits for declarations of ‘no added sugar’, ‘complex carbohydrates’ and ‘diabetics- friendly’.
Similarly, GSK Consumer Healthcare, the government has alleged, violates law by a ‘misleading’ claim’ on its product Boost that it ‘provides three times more stamina than ‘sadharan chocolate drink’, adding that the producer (GSK) has not submitted any specific study on this product to substantiate its claims.
Another flagship GSK product, Horlicks, has also been red-marked by the government which states that a claim that the product makes children ‘taller, stronger and sharper’ is deceptive.
GSK Healthcare has played down the charge. The firm said it had responded to the notice with all the required studies and excerpts of their published research for both brands.
“Since then, there was no further correspondence from the FSSAI on the subject. In case we receive any communication on substantiation of our claims, we will respond as appropriate. All our claims are in compliance with the existing laws and we shall cooperate with the authorities is this matter,” a GSK spokesperson said.
Hienz India’s Complan, Marico’s Saffolla, Cadbury’s Bournvita Little Champs, Dabur India’s Real Active Fibre, Amway India’s Nutrilite are some of the other products facing the flak.
Ad professionals and media planners FE spoke to feel that ad agencies and companies should exercise self-regulation and not go overboard with