The good news first.
Responding to a Hindustan Times report, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs is launching a public awareness campaign to tell buyers not to be fooled by packaging.
The bad news is, that is all the authorities can do. “We would say customers should not just trust brands. That’s what we will emphasise. If the altered packets mention that they are not standard packs, then legally there is nothing wrong,” said YS Bhave, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
According to a senior official at the ministry, Rule 28 of the Packaged Commodities Regulations Order (PCRO) says that manufacturers not printing a line saying altered packs are ‘non-standard packaging’ can be penalised under “deceptive packaging” rules.
Only hope, perhaps, is that officials will be on the lookout to see if certain packs of unusual weights are not printing this disclaimer. “After taking cognizance of the HT report, we had several meetings on this at relevant levels on Wednesday. A strict vigil will be kept on this,” he said.
Earlier, the law mandated manufacturers to sell products only in standard weight packs. “The standard weights varied for different products. But typically they were like 50grams, 100grams, 250grams etc and went up to 25kilogram-packs. But over the years companies kept demanding flexibility because foreign goods came in various non-standard weights. So Indian firms, too, wanted to compete on that front. That’s how the PCRO guidelines were changed,” he said.