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Govt against misleading adverts

The government plans to clamp down heavily on the companies that resort to misleading advertisements for products that are sub-standard.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 03:29 IST

The government plans to clamp down heavily on the companies that resort to misleading advertisements for products that are sub-standard. It also plans to bring to book, companies cross-selling products for which advertisement has been banned under the garb of other related drinks or food items that they sell.

The Standing Committee on Agriculture has called for the attention of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries towards the gross misuse of advertising prowess by certain companies to mislead the consumer. The committee has recommended a proper mechanism to check such misleading advertisements under the amendments to the Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005. The Bill is pending with the Lok Sabha.

The committee has pointed out the need to have a mechanism in place, especially calling attention to some ads relating to soft drinks and sodas manufactured by company which also manufacture and sell liquor by the same brand name.

The committee feels that with the advent of the new technology and day-to-day projection on TV and media, food products mostly of different varieties, that could also include sub-standard brands, are attracting the attention of the general public. So far, no foolproof system has been proposed in the Act that could deter the advertisers of sub-standard items from projecting such ads. The fresh amendments to the Act will address these issues in detail.

This is one of the recommendations that have been accepted by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and have been forwarded for the Cabinet nod. The others include that the responsibility for implementation of food safety should not just rest with some junior nominated officer. Both, the concerned Chief Executive and the person-in-charge of the unit, branch nominated by the company should be responsible for food safety and should be liable to contravention.

The committee has also mandated that immediate steps should be taken to establish at least one fully equipped laboratory with trained manpower in each district in the country for effective implementation of the law. The standards for analysing various categories of food will also in due course be laid down by the Food Authority. The Ministry, however, has not accepted the committee’s suggestion that the definition of food should include drinking water or water provided or supplied by Municipal Authorities or Jal Board for free or by charging some consideration. In a meeting of the GOM, it has been decided that the issue of drinking water should be placed before the Cabinet separately by the Department of Drinking Water.