Food Safety and Standards | Issue 2 | Advertising and Claims Regulations
We wish to inform you that the Government has recently notified the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018 (‘Advertising Regulations’) which intends to establish fairness in claims and advertisements of food products and to make food businesses accountable to protect consumer interest. This update intends to provide a glimpse of the key features of the Advertising Regulations which shall be effective from July 1, 2019.
The key features of these regulations are as follows:
- The scope of the Regulations extend to the following:
- Advertisements- Any audio or video publicity, representation or pronouncement made by specified means.
- Claims- Any representation which is printed, oral, audio or visual and states / suggests / implies that the product has particular qualities vis-à-vis origin, nutrition etc.
- The liability of compliance of the Advertising Regulations lies on the food business operator and the marketer (which includes advertisers and e-platforms). The food operator / marketer is required to seek approval for reduction of disease risk claims other than those specified in the law.
- In case of failure to comply to the regulation, penalty extendable to ₹10,00,000/- shall be attracted.
- General principles for claims: A claim shall adhere to the following principles:
- Truthful, unambiguous, meaningful, not misleading and easy to comprehend.
- Should not encourage / condone consumption of particular food.
- No claim that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide adequate nutrients.
- Claim based on method of preparation of food shall be provided on the label.
- Claim vis-à-vis nutritional or health attributes needs to be scientifically substantiated.
- Trademark / brand / fancy name such as ‘natural’, ‘fresh’, ‘pure’, ‘original’, ‘traditional’ etc. appearing on the label, shall contain the following declaration on label so as to not create confusion:
“*This is only a brand name or trade mark and does not represent its true nature”
- No claim shall be made using Food Safety and Standards Authority of India logo and license number.
- Specific regulations have been provided for the following claims:
- Nutrition claim
- Non-addition claim
- Health claim
- Condition claim
- Prohibited claim
It is pertinent to note that the Advertising Regulations along with the Schedules comprehensively define the conditions that need to be adhered to while making a particular claim which inter alia includes the following:
- Conditions for declaring that a nutrient provides a certain benefit;
- Synonyms which may be used for nutritional claims (For example, synonyms for ‘free’ can be zero, no, without, negligible source);
- Conditions and Statements which can be used for making a health claim;
- Health claims for fortified food articles; and
- Conditions for use of words such as natural, fresh, pure, authentic, genuine, real, traditional and original
- General principles for advertisements: An advertisement shall adhere to the following principles:
- Shall not undermine importance of healthy lifestyle
- Shall not be portrayed as a meal replacement unless specifically permitted by relevant law
- Claims in advertisements to be consistent with information on label
- In case of non-compliance of above regulations, the concerned authority can direct food operator / marketer to stop the advertisement and issue a corrective advertisement within thirty days through the same medium for neutralising the effect of such wrong advertisement.
NITYA Comments: With such stringent regulations being introduced for advertising and claims vis-à-vis food products, it becomes important for food businesses to take notice of the same and initiate the process of vetting their claims / advertisements and also labels to conform with the requirements of the Advertising Regulations. With consumer protection laws gaining momentum, it is expected that the concerned authorities shall be stringent in their approach in the coming times. Thus, it becomes essential for businesses to be prepared and fully compliant with the incoming regulations of advertisements, labelling and packaging.