Don't always believe all the medial endorsements you hear of and read in advertisements and food packages. Some of them can mislead without breaking the law, says the Union Health Ministry.
The latest endorsement to come under the ministry’s scanner is the Indian Medical Association’s endorsement of Quaker Oats. “We have written to the IMA saying that it does not behove an NGO such as the IMA to endorse specific products for a manufacturer. Oats may be healthy, but for an NGO to say so to boost the sales of a particular product is unethical,” said Union Health Secretary Narsh Dayal.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules clearly says: “There shall not appear on the label of any package containing food for sale the words ‘recommended by the medical profession’ or words that imply or suggest that the food is recommended, prescribed or approved by medical practitioners or approved for medical purposes.”
“Unfortunately, only soft claims are made in food endorsements and advertisements, which allow people to bend the law. Once the new food labelling regulations are notified, these loopholes will be plugged,” said Dayal.
IMA general secretary Dr S.N. Mishra first denied the organization had got a letter from the ministry but retracted, saying: “We are an NGO and the ministry cannot dictate anything to us. We have a public health awareness programme under which we have informed the public that oats have high fibre and reduce cholesterol, a medical fact. Our lawyer has written back to the ministry.”
“We do several such awareness activities for the ministry and this is just another public service message,” Dr Mishra said.