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TV ads and childhood obesity interlinked

In a first-of-its-kind move, the union government will set up a committee to scrutinise and regulate product-feature claims made in advertisements.

The committee will be evaluating nutrition, dietary and non-addition claims. Non-addition claims refer to disclaimers of sugar, fat content, etc. on products.

While speaking to the press, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, stated, “The committee will scrutinise advertising claims, examine complaints, and subsequently take appropriate action. A lot of businesses thrive on inducing fear in the public mind, which is incorrect.”

The committee will also check on the usage of terms like ‘natural,’ ‘pure,’ ‘fresh’ in advertisements. This will ensure the consistency of information on labels versus claims in advertisements.

The parameters are based on the recent ‘Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018’ which came into effect starting July 2019. The regulations state that any violation could attract a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh.

Agarwal stated that the FSSAI is equally concerned with small and medium businesses that make misguided advertising claims.

So far, the advertising regulations were seen by an independent body, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

Last week, the regulatory body had issued a show-cause notice to McDonald’s over its advertisements.

In conclusion, Agarwal said, “The committee will look at complaints and we will issue notices and take appropriate action.”

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