Oct 17,2020 | 5 min read

FSSAI - New Rules To Curb Misleading Advertisements By Rakesh Tiwari

Introduction

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is a self-regulatory body that broadcasts responsible advertising. These two authorities have come together against ambiguous advertisements in the food and beverages section and have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the same.

The Food Safety and Standards (FSSAI) (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, which were implemented from 1 July, are supposed to make celebrities, who subscribe to food products, more answerable. The laws will also initiate fairness in claims made by packaged food business house.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting said in the Lok Sabha that the regulations are the intention to establish fairness in claims & advertisement of food products and make food business answerable for such claims & advertisements. 

The regulation clearly states that any person including third-party who advertises; or a part of the broadcasting of any misleading advertisement not following these regulations; would be punishable as per Section 53 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

The Section 53 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, identifies that any person who broadcasts or a party to the broadcast of an advertisement, which deceitfully describes any food or is likely to be deceptive regarding nature, substance, quality of any food or gives an erroneous guarantee, will be liable to a penalty of a maximum of Rs.10 lakhs.

As per the Department of Consumer Affairs, there is no allocation in the Consumer Protection Act 1986 to summon celebrities endorsing food products.

The purchaser can make a complaint against the prejudiced business practice in a consumer forum established under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

If the complaint is endorsed, the Consumer Forum can issue an order to the opposite party ordering him to remove the defector to replace the good or to return the cost of the goods to the complainant.

As per the MOU, the ASCI will keep an eye on food and beverage advertisements across various media. The ASCI will report to the FSSAI about its conclusions taken with regards to the advertisement, which are in disobedience with the ASCI's guidelines, so that additional action may be started as per the provisions of the FSSAI Act. Further, the FSSAI has issued an initiative monitoring directive to the ASCI for processing complaints against ambiguous food and beverage advertisements.

The FSSAI will receive complaints about misleading advertisements through the portal of Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA), under the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Pawan Agarwal CEO, FSSAI, comments on the MOU, "The FSSAI has taken a serious view of misleading advertisements related to food and beverages, and to effectively handle the same, has entered into an MOU with the ASCI, following which there will be a paradigm shift towards handling such a scenario and shall also bring transparency and accountability with the stakeholders' participation."

The ASCI, which is an automated concern for the advertising industry, was formed in the year 1985. The primary function of the ASCI and it's Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is to deal with complaints given by consumer or user and industry against the advertisement, which observed as incorrect, misleading, vulgar, unlawful, and directing to unsafe practice, or unjust to competition, and as a result in the violation of the ASCI code for self-regulation in advertising.

National Ad Monitoring Service (NAMS), the ASCI assert to monitor more than 80 per cent of new print media and new Television ads released in the country every month, for infringement of Chapter I of the ASCI Code.

Conclusion

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), is a lawful body formed under the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 to make scientific standards for the commodity of food and regulating manufacturing, preparation, dispersal, sale, and importing of food to make certain safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Benoy Roychowdhury, Chairman of ASCI, says, "We are delighted that the ASCI's self-regulatory process on advertising content is getting recognition from various government bodies and the partnership with the FSSAI will augment our efforts in curtailing misleading advertisements. Food and beverage products are consumed daily, impacting the health and well-being of millions of consumers. Reining in misleading advertisements for this important sector would be a key priority for the ASCI."

As per new regulations, claims made in the advertisements will be compatible with the information given on the label. Words saying the food is recommended, authorized, or prescribed by medical practitioners or approved for medicinal purpose.

The FSSAI is in the process of further revising some of its present existing rules and regulations to monitor high-sugar and high salt containing food and make the user or consumers aware about the risk of having such food.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Rakesh Tiwari

Specialized in Trademark, Copyright, Design, Patent, Geographical Indications and Due Diligence for IP Rights of Corporate and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights

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