FOOD ADS IN INDIA

Recently, the Advertisement Monitoring Committee at the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) flagged 32 fresh cases of food business operators (FBOs) making misleading claims and advertisements.

What are the regulations?

  • FSSAI uses the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising & Claims) Regulations, 2018 which specifically deals with food (and related products).
  • The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)’s regulations cover goods, products and services.
  • The Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 stipulate that advertisements must not imply that the products have some special or miraculous or supernatural property or quality, which is difficult of being proved.
  • The FSSAI seeks that the advertisements and claims be truthful, unambiguous, meaningful, not misleading and help consumers to comprehend the information provided.
  • The claims must be scientifically substantiated by validated methods of characterising or quantifying the ingredient or substance that is the basis for the claim. 

Distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘fresh’:

Natural:

  • A food product can be referred to as ‘natural’ if it is a single food derived from a recognised natural source and has nothing added to it.
  • It should only have been processed to render it suitable for human consumption.
  • Composite foods, which are essentially a mixture of plant and processed constituents, cannot call themselves ‘natural’, instead, they can say ‘made from natural ingredients’.

Fresh:

  • ‘Fresh’ can be used for products which are not processed in any manner other than washing, peeling, chilling, trimming, cutting or irradiation such that it remains safe for consumption with the basic characteristics unaltered.
  • Those with additives (to increase shelf life) may instead use ‘freshly frozen’, ‘fresh frozen’, or ‘frozen from fresh’ to contextualise that it was quickly frozen while fresh.

Distinction between ‘pure’ and ‘original’

Pure:

  • ‘Pure’ is to be used for single-ingredient foods to which nothing has been added and which are devoid of all avoidable contamination.
  • Unavoidable contaminants are within prescribed controls.

Original

  • ‘Original’ is used to describe food products made to a formulation, with a traceable origin that has remained unchanged over time.
  • They do not contain replacements for any major ingredients.
  • It may similarly be used to describe a unique process which has remained unchanged over time, although the product may be mass-produced.

Nutritional claims

  • Nutritional claims may either be about the specific contents of a product or comparisons with some other foodstuff.
  • Claims of equivalence may be used in the labelling provided that it gives the equivalent nutritional value as the reference food.
  • For example, if you say, that there is Vitamin D in my product, we need evidence to substantiate that there indeed is Vitamin D in your product.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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