The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has sent a showcause notice to fast-food giant McDonald’s for contravening the provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018.
McDonald’s has been asked to submit its reply to the notice within a week. The company had allegedly issued full page advertisements that read: “Stuck with Ghiya-Tori Again? Make the 1+1 Combo you love.”
In a statement FSSAI said: “Tendency of the food companies to disparage freshly cooked food and vegetables that are healthier is a matter of grave concern. Such advertisements are against national efforts for promoting healthier and right eating habits, especially in the children from a young age, with the aim to ensure safe and wholesome food for them so that the kids feel better, grow better and learn better.”
The Eat Right campaign, launched recently by the Health Ministry, aims at nudging people towards healthier food choices. WHO, in its resolution on marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children, has asked the member-states to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt. It also recommends that given the effectiveness of marketing is a function of exposure and power, the overall policy objective should be to reduce both the exposure of children to, and power of, marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
Aligned with the WHO advice, FSSAI recently finalised the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018. Under these regulations, the advertisements should not undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles, and also shall not promote or portray their food & beverages as a meal replacement unless otherwise specifically permitted by FSSAI.
FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal said: “Food companies must desist from issuing advertisements/publicity materials which are in violation of Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006 and rules/regulations made thereunder. FSSAI is committed to ensure the availability of safe and wholesome food for all citizens of the country through various means like education, awareness building and regulatory enforcement and to achieve these goals the Eat Right campaign is going on across the country.”
McDonald’s operates in India through franchisees Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt Ltd (HRPL) and Connaught Plaza Restaurants Pvt Ltd (CRPL). HRPL, in a statement said, “Hardcastle Restaurants Private Limited operates restaurants in West and South India and the print ad in question was not issued by us. We have already written to the FSSAI clarifying the same.”
Calls, messages and an email to CRPL went unanswered.
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