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What are the regulations to curtail misleading food ads?

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    12th May, 2023

Context

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has reported 170 cases of food business operators (FBOs) making misleading claims and advertisements, in the last six months.

Key-highlights:

  • The FSSAI wants advertisements and claims to be “truthful, unambiguous, meaningful, not misleading and help consumers to comprehend the information provided”.
  • Making deceptive claims or advertisements are punishable offences under Section-53 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. 

What are the regulations?

  • The Food Safety and Standards (Advertising & Claims) Regulations, 2018 and the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) regulate misleading advertisements and claims.
  • FSSAI seeks that the advertisements and claims be “truthful, unambiguous, meaningful, not misleading and help consumers to comprehend the information provided”.
  • Claims must be scientifically substantiated by validated methods of characterising or quantifying the ingredient or substance that is the basis for the claim.  
    • FSS Act, 2006: Product claims suggesting suitability for prevention, alleviation, treatment or cure of a disease, disorder or particular psychological condition is prohibited unless specifically permitted under the regulations of the FSS Act, 2006.  

What are the regulations for tackling misleading ads and claims?  

There are varied regulations to combat misleading advertisements and claims, some are broad, while others are product specific. 

  • Food Safety and Standards (Advertisements & Claims) Regulations, 2018: It specifically deal with food (and related products) while Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)’s regulations cover goods, products and services.  
  • Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994: They stipulate that advertisements must not draw inferences that it has “some special or miraculous or supernatural property or quality, which is difficult of being proved.” 

Food Product Claims

Natural Product

  • A food product can be referred to as ‘natural’ if it is a single food derived from a recognised natural source and has nothing added to it.
  • Composite foods, a mixture of plant and processed constituents, cannot be called ‘natural’, instead, they can say ‘made from natural ingredients’.

Fresh

  • ‘Fresh’ can be used for products which are not processed in any manner other than washing, peeling, chilling, trimming, cutting or irradiation by ionizing radiation or any other processing such that it remains safe for consumption with the basic characteristics unaltered. 

Pure

  • ‘Pure’ is to be used for single-ingredient foods to which nothing has been added.
  • They devoid of all avoidable contamination, while unavoidable contaminations are within prescribed controls.

Original

  • ‘Original’ is used to describe food products made to a formulation, with a traceable origin that has remained unchanged over time.
  • They do not contain replacements for any major ingredients.
  • It may similarly be used to describe a unique process which has remained essentially unchanged over time, although the product may be mass-produced. 

Verifying, please be patient.

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