misleading advertisements

New Regulations to restrict misleading advertisements on packaged food

The food regulator is planning to notify Food Safety and Standards (claims & advertisement) Regulations later this week, in a move to restrict spurious advertisements on packaged food. As per the new regulations, the companies will be prohibited from using words or phrases like ‘traditional’, ‘natural’, ‘genuine’, ‘fresh’, ‘premium’, ‘real’, ‘original’ and ‘authentic’ etc on the food labels with an exception of specific conditions.

An official said, “These restrictions are primarily aimed at restricting an open-ended use of these words or phrases by food businesses on frivolous grounds.”

According to the new regulations led by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), companies can use these words or phrases only if their product is not processed in any manner except peeled, washed, trimmed and chilled or put through other processing which could change its basic characteristics.

Food brands will also be prohibited from advertising or making claim diminishing the value of the other manufacturer’s products, in order to influence consumer behavior or promote their own products.

Since FSSAI first issued the draft regulations in March 2019, these regulations have been in the pipeline for some time.

The regulations will include several sections presenting definitions; general principles for claims and advertisements; criteria for nutrition claims (including nutrient comparative claims or nutrient content), health claims, claims regarding dietary guidelines or healthy diets, and conditional claims; claims that are specifically restricted; and procedures for approval of claims and redressal of non-compliances under these regulations.

After receiving the notification from the food regulator, the brands will also be prohibited from advertising a food product that reduces the significance of lifestyles or reflects the food product as a complete replacement of normal meal.

On violating the norms, the brands will be charged with a fine of up to Rs 10 lakhs.

Although, the claims may refer to a nutrient such as trans-fat, energy, unsaturated fat being ‘high’ in a food, fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat, sugar, or sodium salt being ‘low’ or ‘absent’; a food being ‘source of’ or ‘high’ in respect of nutrients like vitamins, dietary fibre, minerals, or protein.

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