Multigrain noodles that claim to be healthier than the regular variety,digestive biscuits that help weight loss and drinks that make champions out of little children cracking down on such advertisements,the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has sent notices to the manufacturers asking them to justify the claims with appropriate evidence or face action for violating the advertising code for food items and supplements.
Among those who have been issued notices are: Maggi multigrain noodles,Top Ramen (which has brought out an oats version),Nutrichoice biscuits,Horlicks,Complan,Heartcare biscuits,Bournvita Lil Champs and Pediasure food supplement. The products were identified after months of monitoring the advertisements. The companies have been told to respond within a fortnight.
The issue is not of misleading,but there are issues of governance involved. The Ministry of Company Affairs must also seek compliance from such large MNCs on giving declarations in their annual reports that they have not issued any misleading advertisements or have not been served with any notice from the food regulator about misbranding/ misleading advertisements, said FSSAI director (administration) Asim Choudhary in an e-mail to The Indian Express.
Similarly these companies must not not be allowed to telecast such advertisements by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and there should also be a ban on their advertising on social networking sites so that in course of time these misleading advertisements will be monitored at more than one level, said Choudhary,adding that the notices were sent about a week-10 days ago.
Some of the questions that the FSSAI has raised are: what are the sugar and other components used in Nutrichoice by Britannia that make the biscuits healthy; what is the basis of the multigrain claim of Maggi (Nestle product) and oats claim of Top Ramen (Nissin); how Complan (Heinz) makes children grow taller faster; how Bournvita Lil Champs (Cadburys) triggers better brain development.
Nestle spokesperson Himanshu Manglik said the company was yet to receive any notice. But a spokesperson of Cadburys said: We had received a request for information from the FSSAI on the ingredients of Bournvita Lil Champs. We have provided all relevant scientific facts and data on the composition of our product.