The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked Mondelez International India, which makes health drink Bournvita, to review and withdraw all misleading advertisements, packaging and labels related to the milk supplement citing non-adherence to mandatory disclosure of its sugar content.
In a notice to the confectionery major, NCPCR has asked it to send within seven days a detailed explanation or report to apprise the panel on the matter.
This comes days after a health influencer’s video criticised Bournvita, a product of Cadbury, as a ‘health drink’ for children. On April 1, influencer Revant Himatsingka in a video said that Bournvita has high sugar, cocoa solids and cancer-causing colourant. He said that Bournvita’s tagline “tayyari jeet ki” should be changed to “tayyari diabetes ki.”
Responding to the video, Mondelez India-owned health drink brand issued a legal notice to Himatsingka, claiming that his video was misleading.
It said: "Bournvita contains nutrients namely Vitamin A, C, D, Iron, Zinc, Copper and Selenium which help build immunity. These have been part of our formulation for several years. We have always called out ‘Helps with the healthy functioning of the immune system’ on the back of our pack for several years (even before the Covid-19 pandemic)."
Himatsingka eventually deleted the video from all platforms, but it had already gone viral and raked up around 12 million views. The post was even shared by actor-politician Paresh Rawal, former cricketer and MP Kirti Azad. Many personalities and health experts have shown their concerns about health drinks and their content.
On Tuesday (April 26), the NCPCR said it has received a complaint alleging that Bournvita promotes itself as a health drink improving children's growth and development but it contains high percentage of sugar and other substances that might impact a child's health.
The apex child rights body added that the labelling and display norms by the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) mandate the display of red colour coding for the products that have added sugar content value more than 10 per cent of the total energy provided by the 100 g/ml of the product.
“Prima facie (it) has been observed that your product, seems to have bypassed the threshold with the use of labels ‘Maltodextrin liquid glucose’ which needs to be mentioned under the class title “added sugar..” read the notice.
In the notice to Deepak Iyer, president-India, Mondelez International, the child rights body said: "The commission in this regard observes that the product manufactured by your company is misleading the customers through it product packaging and advertisements. The Commission observes that your product's labelling, packaging, display and advertisement claims are misleading for the general public."
What Mondelez claimed
Bournvita had earlier said that over the last seven decades, it has "earned the trust of consumers in India by being a scientifically formulated product that adheres to quality standards and complies with the laws of the land".
Assuring its users, Bournvita underscored that its formulation has been scientifically crafted by a team of nutritionists and food scientists to offer the best of taste and health. “All our claims are verified and transparent and all ingredients have regulatory approvals. All the necessary nutritional information is mentioned on the pack for consumers to make informed choices," it added.
In its statement, it added that Bournvita is best consumed with a glass of 200 ml of hot or cold milk as highlighted in the pack.
"All ingredients are safe, approved for use, and within permissible limits as per the regulatory guidelines," it said.
“We would again like to reinforce that the formulation has been scientifically crafted by a team of nutritionists and food scientists to offer the best of taste and health. All our claims are verified and transparent and all ingredients have regulatory approvals. All the necessary nutritional information is mentioned on the pack for consumers to make informed choices," a Bournvita spokesperson was quoted by PTI.