Complan, Saffola and Kellogg’s under scanner for misleading public

FSSAI initiates prosecution against manufacturers of 19 leading food brands for making unscientific claims about their products

By Avimuktesh Bhardwaj
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Whether it’s Complan or Horlicks, they claim to make a child taller and smarter. But their promises are not based on any scientific data.

imageNow such food products in the Indian market have come under the scanner of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for making false health claims on the labels of their products. 

Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, minister of state for health and family welfare informed Lok Sabha in a written reply on November 30 that the food regulator has begun prosecution proceedings against manufacturers of 19 leading brands and has issued show cause notices to 19 others for making false claims regarding the nutritional value of the product in advertising and on the label.

List of brands against which action has been recommended
1. Complan
2. Complan Memory
3. Boost
4. Horlicks
5. Emami – Healthy and Tasty Soybean Oil
6. Saffola
7. Engine Mustard Oil
8. Nutricharge men (Daily nutrition supplement capsules)
9. Kellogg's Special K
10. Britannia Nutrichoice Biscuits
11. Kellogg’s Extra Muesli
12. Bournvita Little Champs
13. Today Premium Tea
14. Pediasure
15. Real Active Fibre
16. Nutrilite
17. Kissan Cream Spread
18. Rajdhani Besan
19. Britannia Vita Marie
These food products violate Section 24 of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA). According to Section 24, no person can make false claims in oral, writing or even by visual representations regarding the nutritional value of the product or efficacy of the product without providing any scientific justification.

“The FSSAI monitors labels on various food items and claims advertised for food items by different companies in print and electronic media. Such findings and complaints received from stakeholders are analysed in FSSAI and show cause notices are issued to the manufacturers. Their replies are examined at FSSAI by a three-member committee constituted for this purpose. As per recommendations of this committee, actions including prosecution are initiated by designated officers at the regional level,” the minister informed.

According to him, companies were found to be making false claims about issues like children’s health and memory, cardiac health and obesity. For instance, Complan, a leading drink brand, claims that it makes children grow twice faster. Horlicks promises to make children  “taller, stronger and sharper”. Kellogg's Special K claims that people, who eat low fat food in their breakfast, tend to be thinner than those who do not, without providing any scientific study to back up this claim. Products like Saffola Oil, Rajdhani Besan and Britannia Vita Marie have been booked for making false claims of being “heart-friendly” and “reducing cholesterol”.

Double standards

Many of these brands also show double standards. Complan and Horlicks, which claim to make kids taller in India, do not make any such claims in the UK. They also use kids on their labels as well as in advertisements in India but not in the UK. FSSAI has also booked Complan Memory for showing on its label students with books which can mislead people that after consuming the drink, one will be good in studies or pass exams.

The regulations in India allow companies to get away with whatever they want to advertise to people. Companies can be a fined a maximum of Rs 10 lakh for false and misleading claims under Section 24. This is negligible amount for the companies which make crores by selling their products.


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  • so finally the authorities

    so finally the authorities have woken up from their deep slumber and taken note of the fantastic claims of the so called health drinks and energy boosters. In fact this is only a tip of the iceberg and we can come across such abnormal claims appearing in most of the adverisements, the gullible public very well knows that all these tall claims are just humbug and still falls a prey to it, these should be strict laws by which these people can be booked and the truth exposed.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • How can we forget Maggi

    How can we forget Maggi noodles at this stage which claims "taste bhi, health bhi".
    Another such claim is seen on real juice fibre plus which states 'come back into purani jeans' with Bipasha Basu on the label. Actually, the product does not contain fibre from the pulp of the fruit; it has maltodextrin in it which is an artificial fibre.
    These advertisement are not only harming young children but also the youth.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Not to forget ads like those

    Not to forget ads like those by Colgate toothpaste which show a movie actor or a model dressed in a white lab coat promoting the product - and falsely conveying the impression to a gullible public that it has the approval of the medical fraternity.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • all this type of product

    all this type of product should be banned with out any delay. all of these companies target only making money through commercial advertisement.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • An advertising agency veteran

    An advertising agency veteran puts it this way: Only a small percentage of populace use logic and discretion; these ads are not targeted at them.

    In EU/ US there are strict laws & regulators for such stuff. Its about time we in India get them too.

    PS: Engine Mustard Oil! What were the manufacturers thinking? Maybe hints to what oil they maybe selling.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply