On November 22, 2019 Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) noted that advertising and marketing plays a key role in people making food choices, particularly children. It expresses deep concern about irresponsible advertising and marketing by food companies. FSSAI has noted with concern incidences of irresponsible advertising by some food companies to promote sales of their own foods often considered unhealthy as substitute for healthy foods.
The FSSAI has issued a show cause notice dated November 20 to McDonald’s for a newspaper advertisement covered on November 9 in a national daily that reads, “Stuck with Ghiya-Tori Again? Make the 1+1 Combo you love” that it considered “irresponsible advertising”. The notice says “The central licensing authority and FSSAI’s designated officer at New Delhi and Mumbai have taken cognizance of this and issued show cause notices for contravening the provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018 as to why further action should not be initiated against McDonald for this.” McDonald’s has been given time till December 27 to respond.
Commenting on this development, Pawan Agarwal, CEO FSSAI said “The 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.”
It may be noted that exactly a year ago, aligned with the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice, FSSAI has finalized the ‘Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018’ and notified it on November 19, 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.
Through a notification dated June 28, 2019 the FSSAI has issued directions regarding the operationalisation of the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Amendment Regulations 2019. These regulations were to come into force on their publication in the Official Gazette and Food Business Operators ((FBOs) were to comply with all the provisions of these regulations by July 1, 2019.
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In October 2019, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a full report after carrying out a survey on safety and quality of liquid milk in the country. Although the survey results hint towards demolishing milk adulteration perception, an in-depth analysis of the report reveals that 1 in 10 packets of milk purchased by consumers could be unsafe. Hence more is required in the dairy sector in order to address the issue of milk adulteration at all levels. On a whole, further steps are required to be taken to achieve transparency and efficiency in the dairy sector of India through public private partnership and best use of technology.
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With a mission to lead and drive global efforts to reduce, prevent and treat obesity, the World Obesity Federation (WOF) launched World Obesity Day in 2015 that is now observed globally on October 11. With more than 135 million individuals affected by obesity in India, abdominal obesity is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVDs). The WOF estimates about three out of ten Indians are expected to be obese by 2025. India needs to gather some learning lessons from other countries where the industry is collaborating with regulators to achieve regulatory environments that are conducive for product reformulation, labelling and marketing regulation, ensuring a range of healthy options for consumers.
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In 2016, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region's food and beverage industry achieved an estimated turnover of $3.23 trillion, and was backed by a consistent year-on-year growth rate of 11 per cent, presenting a wealth of opportunities. With rising incomes and growing awareness of healthy eating among a burgeoning middle and upper class, the food companies see a clear opportunities for them in the region.
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