Dabur’s advertisements are attempts to confuse consumers

Inconsistent messaging to consumers by honey brands does not change the fact about their adulteration with sugar syrups; it only confuses them

By Sonal Dhingra
Published: Tuesday 22 December 2020
Dabur’s advertisements are attempts to confuse consumers. Photo: YouTube
Dabur’s advertisements are attempts to confuse consumers. Photo: YouTube Dabur’s advertisements are attempts to confuse consumers. Photo: YouTube

Dabur India Ltd is on a frantic spree to advertise its honey since Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) expose on adulteration in honey.

In its latest video advertisement, it stated that every batch of Dabur honey was tested on 22 parameters set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Not just that. It trivialised the ‘new tests’ (read Nuclear magnetic Resonance, ie NMR) by stating: Kisi naye test ke naam se koi shahad shudh nahi ban jata (naming any new test doesn't make honey pure).

But wait, wasn’t Dabur advertising its honey as ‘NMR-tested’ prior to the CSE investigation?

Dabur was one of the only two brands that claimed that their honey was NMR-tested. But when has Dabur been consistent in its messaging to the consumers?

In earlier advertisements, it had said its product was “NMR tested, pure honey” and “raw honey, NMR profiled”. A day after the release of CSE’s report, Dabur stopped mentioning that.

Read about the investigation on honey adulteration here

Instead, it started stating that the product was “Source NMR tested” and that it had the first corporate-owned NMR machine in India. Did that mean that what is finally consumed is not NMR tested?

These were confusing messages for consumers that could not be substantiated with evidence. In its rebuttal to the CSE findings, Dabur could not produce the NMR report for the batch of honey it got tested.

All it produced was a report of the Bruker equipment / machine for NMR profiling of one sample without any mention of the sample details (sample number, manufacturing date, etc).

To give you a little background: We tested three batches of Dabur honey and all of them passed on the parameters laid by FSSAI; the tests for C4 and C3 sugars, foreign oligosaccharides and Specific marker for rice syrup (SMR). The only tests it failed were NMR (all three batches) and trace marker for rice syrup (1 batch).

It failed the NMR test. This means there was “adulteration / unauthorised addition of sugar syrup” — to quote the report analysis by the lab experts.

It failed the very test that it was claiming its honey would come out clean on.

From here, the company that is the world’s number 1 honey brand, had to chose one of the two paths — either produce honey that is not adulterated or continue business as usual and further twist the messaging to the consumer instead.

Dabur chose the latter to confuse consumers. And found a haven by talking about only the parameters it passed. But does it change the fact that it did not pass the tests for purity? No.

Dabur would better serve its and the public’s interest if it focused on the quality of its honey rather than the managing the messaging and perception around its honey.

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