Food regulator to screen ads on media

Mumbai: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) plans to set up a committee of experts which will screen food advertisements on television, digital and print media. The committee will scrutinise and regulate product-feature claims made in advertisements.

This comes after the food regulator last week issued a show-cause notice to a fast food franchise for disparaging freshly cooked food and vegetables in one of its advertisements.

"The committee will evaluate the nutrition, dietary and non-addition claims (disclaimers of sugar, fat content, etc.) in products,” said an official. Pawan Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said the expert committee will include members from the advertising and food and regulatory space.

“They 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,” he said.

They 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 in July 2019. The regulations state that any violation could attract a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh.

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