The apex food safety regulators – The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) together, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 1st of July to protect the consumers against false advertisements. This collaboration will help in establishing a mechanism to monitor misleading ads which will help in creating proper rules and regulations for effective advertisement.
Under this agreement, ASCI will identify the ads which seem misleading/ false or violate the Food Safety and Standards Regulations (2018) in the first impression which will then be further investigated by FSSAI. FSSAI will also redirect complaints against misleading F&B advertisements to ASCI, which will be reviewed using ASCI’s code and guidelines. The review will include violations of the FSS Act and Regulations related to advertisements making misleading, unsubstantiated, or false claims. ASCI had asked in the previous years to modify the ads of famous brands such as – ITC for Aashirvad Atta, Coca-Cola, Dabur, Patanjali Ayurveda, etc. FSSAI feels that because of this partnership there will an increase in transparency and accountability through stakeholder participation. ASCI too is content with this decision since they are getting recognition from the government body which will, in turn, benefit them too.
Food and beverages are consumed throughout the country on a very large scale. People may not realize but the portrayal of harmful products as edible and tasty can actually motivate them unconsciously to consume them even if they deny admitting to it. Hence it is the primary duty of such associations to keep a regular check on the content that is prevailing and the kind of food items that are being promoted. The serious effect of ads can be understood through a simple example. Consider imagining that you’re watching a movie and suddenly an ad for McDonald’s pops up showing the tasty, lip-smacking burgers and French fries. You automatically feel a temptation to eat a burger urgently and maybe you follow your temptation and consume a burger. This is still a less dangerous example. If we consider the case of a cigarette here then it can be pretty dangerous. Hence it is necessary to remind the viewers with “warnings” such as we see during smoking ads, that “smoking may lead to cancer. Smoking kills” and so on.