The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently prosecuted 19 food manufacturing brands for reporting claims about their products without any proved scientific data. We can take the examples of Complan and Horlicks who claim that their products would make children grow taller and smarter.
With these non scientific claims made regarding the nutritional value of the product, FSSAI has decided to scan the leading companies and decide the future of their products after review. Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare addressed Lok Sabha in a statement that the FSSAI has already begun the proceedings against the 19 leading brands. He also added that the food regulatory has issued legal show cause notices to all these 19 companies for having made such false claims.
Abu Hasem said that the companies have violated Section 24 of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA). According to the act, any false claims made over the nutritional value of the product in oral or in written would allow the food authority to take legal action.
The review process of any product at FSSAI is as follows:
FSSAI reviews the print and electronic media labels and claims advertised by companies for each of their food product.
The food authority analyses complaints received from the stakeholders and issues show cause notices to the manufacturers.
Further, the reply from the manufacturers is examined by a three-member committee specially constituted for this purpose.
With respect to the recommendations from the committee members, action are taken that may include prosecution
The minister said that companies are frequently found to be making false claims with respect to children’s health and memory, or even cardiac health and obesity. Complan, Kellogg’s, Horlicks can all be included in the list. At the same time, products like Rajdhani Besan, Saffola Oil, and Britannia Vita Marie have been included in the list for making false claims like cholesterol reduction and being heart-friendly.
The prosecuted companies are also found to be showing double standards. For instance, Horlicks and Complan who promise to make children taller in India do not claim the same in UK. The labels of the products seen with kids on them don’t appear the same in UK. In this context, FSSAI booked Complan Memory for showcasing label with students carrying books which can mislead the consumers.
But companies can get away even after making such false claims and misleading people. Under Section 24, the companies would be fined a maximum of Rs 10 lakh which in their terms is negligible when compared to the revenues that they generate by selling their products.