Food companies cannot use words such as ‘natural’, ‘fresh’, ‘original’, ‘traditional’, ‘pure’, ‘authentic’, ‘genuine’ and ‘real’ on the labels unless the product is not processed in any manner except washed, peeled, chilled and trimmed or put through other processing which could alter its basic characteristics, as per new regulations of Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that will be notified in the coming days.
Companies using terms which could mean ‘natural’, ‘fresh’, ‘original’, ‘traditional’, ‘pure’, ‘authentic’, ‘genuine’ and ‘real’ as their brand name or trade mark will have to give a clear disclaimer stating “this is only a brand name or trade mark and does not represent its true nature”, the regulation stipulates. “We are fully supportive of FSSAI’s efforts to improve nutritional standards in India. Along with the rest of the F&B industry, we are engaging with them to have robust regulations in place,” a spokesperson for HUL said.
The regulation also lays down criteria for certain claims which food companies can make in their advertising and promotions such as nutrition claims, non-addition claims (including non-addition of sugars NSE -2.18 % and sodium salts), health claims, claims related to dietary guidelines or healthy diets and conditional claims. Packaged food companies cannot advertise products as complete meal replacement or undermine the importance of healthy lifestyle.
In case an advertiser wants to make claims for which regulations have not been specified in, they will have to seek approval from the authority. The new regulation prohibits food businesses from advertising or making claims undermining the products of other manufacturers as to promote their own products or influence consumer behaviour. There are strict penalty provisions for those misleading consumers.