Food regulator FSSAI on Friday said it continues to act against food business operators reported to be involved in making false or misleading claims to protect consumer interests, amid issue over allegations of high sugar content in Mondelez India-owned health drink brand Bournvita.
Although the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) did not specifically refer to the Bournvita issue, the regulator in a statement said that it has taken note of various media reports, including on social media about various health claims made by the Food Business Operators (FBOs) in the country.
"FSSAI is actively discharging its statutory role for the sake of consumers by acting against the FBOs reported to be involved in making any false/misleading claims on food products to protect the interests of the consumers while ensuring fair trade practices and orderly growth of food industry in the country," it said.
The statement comes in the wake of allegations of high sugar content in Bournvita made by social media influencer Revant Himatsingka. The company had earlier this week rejected the claims of the social media influencer, who has already deleted his video following a legal notice by Mondelez India.
On several social media platforms #BoycottBournvita trended after the video got viral. FSSAI said its mandate is to lay down science-based standards for food products in the country and enforce the same.
In order to regulate the advertisement and claims on food products by FBOs, FSSAI has notified a regulation -- Food Safety and Standards (Advertisements & Claims) Regulations, 2018 under which the deceptive claims or advertisements are prohibited and are punishable offences.
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"Every claim, including the permitted nutrient-based claims under the said regulations are required to meet the criteria stipulated in the said regulations and no false or exaggerated health claim is permitted.
"Further, any nutrient function claims and other functional claims made on the food products are required to be based on the current and relevant scientific evidence," the statement said.
The regulator further said it has set up a dedicated advertisement monitoring committee which periodically scrutinises advertisements and claims being made by FBOs on various channels, including social media and e-commerce platforms.
In the last six months, the committee has scrutinised advertisements and claims on many food products and has reported 138 cases, including that of many prominent brands which were found to be non-compliant and misleading. "...for further enforcement actions the same have been referred to the concerned licensing authorities for issuance of notices to all such FBOs for withdrawing of misleading claims or scientifically substantiate the same," it said.
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