Introduction to Advertising & Claim Regulation:
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified the draft regulations pertaining to claims and advertisements by food business operators in respect of their food products. These regulations are aimed at establishing fairness in claims and advertisements of food products and make food businesses accountable for such claims/advertisements so as to protect consumer interests.
Many claims, listed in various schedules of these regulations with related criteria, are permitted to be made by food business operators without the need for seeking prior approval from the food regulator. However, other types of claims not standardized under these regulations may require approval from the Food Authority and should be supported with sound scientific basis. With a detailed procedure for approval of claims included in these regulations, food businesses may seek prior approval from FSSAI for nutrition and health claims other than those specified in these regulations.
Continuing with the momentum towards supporting co-regulation in advertising, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has signed an MoU partnering with the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI). Addressing the cases of misleading advertisements in the Food and Beverage sector (F&B), ASCI will comprehensively monitor these advertisements across various media.
FSSAI will also redirect complaints against misleading F&B advertisements to ASCI, which will be reviewed using ASCI’s code and guidelines. The review will include violation of the FSS Act and Regulations related to advertisements making misleading, unsubstantiated or false claims.
This partnership will put in place a mechanism to monitor misleading advertisements and will lead towards streamlining advertisements effectively through structured guidelines and appropriate action.
Purpose of this Regulation:
Advertisements in respect of a food product that undermines the importance of healthy lifestyles or portrays the food product as a complete replacement of normal meal are not permitted. Further, food businesses are also prohibited to advertise or make claim undermining the products of other manufacturer so as to promote their own food products or influence consumer behaviour.
As per these regulations, food business cannot use the words/phrases such as natural, fresh, original, traditional, premium, finest, best, authentic, genuine, real etc. on the food labels except under specific conditions detailed therein. Foods can be claimed to be ‘fresh’ only if they are not processed in any manner except washed, peeled chilled, trimmed or cut or have undergone other processing necessary for making the product safe without altering its basic characteristic in any manner. Such restrictions are primarily aimed at restricting an open-ended use of these words/phrases by food businesses on frivolous grounds.
Permitted Claim and advertisement for Packaged Food Products:
Advertisement & Claim Regulation define criteria for different types of nutrition claims (including nutrient content or nutrient comparative claims), non-addition claims (including non-addition of sugars and sodium salts), health claims (reduction of disease risk), claims related to dietary guidelines or healthy diets, and conditional claims; claims that are specifically prohibited; and procedures for approval of claims and redressal of non-compliances under these regulations.
Penalty for misleading advertisement:
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