Tag Archives: Awareness

Dual/ Differential Maximum Retail Sale Price

Consumers, in India, have in the recent past had a concern in relation to FMCG and, in particular, food products being made available by manufacturers, at different prices in different places. The complaints have been with regard to products being sold at cinema halls, malls, airports etc., at higher prices as compared to the same products at regular retail shops. The Department of Legal Metrology has, in the recent past, pulled up such sellers but was unable to bring these matters to logical closure as the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 (PC Rules) did not provide for the regulation of dual/ differential pricing.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, through a recent amendment to the PC Rules, introduced a provision regulating the dual/ differential pricing of products. This provision prohibits manufacturers, packers or importers from declaring different prices on identical commodities. The prohibition is, however, subject to the pricing being arrived at by adopting restrictive or unfair trade practices as have been set out in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The above would mean that a manufacturer, packer or importer is prohibited from using a dual/ differential maximum retail sale price in relation to an identical commodity, by using restrictive or unfair trade practices as per the Consumer Protection Act. As a consequence, it would appear that a manufacturer, packer or importer may continue to have differential prices in relation to an identical commodity as long as there is an adequate justification for the same, which results in an increased cost from the factory to the shelf, provided the same is not coloured by unfair or restrictive trade practices.

The amendment is being brought into force from January 1, 2018 and manufacturers would, from such then on, have to ensure that all their products are in compliance with this provision.

Smart Consumer App – FSSAI

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is attempting to ensure that consumers receive the maximum information in relation to the products that they intend to purchase. In this regard, the FSSAI is establishing a network integration with the ‘Smart Consumer App’, which would provide consumers with the desired information.

The ‘Smart Consumer App’ has been developed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in the year 2016 along with GS1 India (a body that has been set up to issue barcodes), and the function of the app involves a consumer scanning the bar code set out on any package or entering the Global Trade Index Number (GTIN), and receiving information in relation to the product. The information could relate to the statutory declarations required to be set out on a package or information in relation to a package of food being recalled by the manufacturers etc. The detailed intention of the FSSAI has been set out in a press release issued by the FSSAI on September 12, 2017.

The FSSAI is encouraging manufacturers, suppliers and such persons to start providing the required information to GS1 India so as to integrate the barcode and the GTIN with the information, for the consumer information and use.

Hygiene levels of Ice

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has now realised how unhygienic the ice being used for the transportation, preservation and storage of food products is. Ice, many a times, is made from doubtful sources of water and is transported in blocks at the back of cars, lorries, etc., with an unhygienic cloth covering it or sometimes with no covering at all. These are further delivered to their respective destinations by merely leaving the same on the ground, which in most cases could be the side of a public road, which requires no imagination to visualise unhygienic conditions that such blocks of ice go through. To make matters worse, these are also rampantly used and served by not just wayside eateries to unsuspecting consumers.

The FSSAI has understood that the ice blocks being used for the purposes of preservation, storage or transportation of food products, that are perishable, is made from water that is non-potable. Unfortunately, while the FSSAI had prescribed standards for edible ice, there were no standards for ice used in this manner.

The FSSAI, now, in view of the above, has stated, in terms of an order dated April 25, 2017, that any ice or ice blocks used in relation to the preservation, storage or transportation of food or that which comes into contact with the food must comply with the microbiological requirements that have been prescribed and set out for edible ice in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

In a time where water borne diseases are rife, this is a positive move by the FSSAI to ensure the safety of ice. The FSSAI should however have also provided for the storage and transportation of such ice or ice blocks as the aforesaid could greatly affect the safety of such ice till such time it is put to its intended use.

Use of Newspaper as Packaging Material

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has, today, issued an advisory cautioning the use of newspapers to wrap, pack and serve food products. The FSSAI recognises that it is common practice to use newspapers as packaging material, however, it has stated that the same is resulting in consumers being slowly poisoned in view of the ink, colours and pigments used in the newspapers.

The FSSAI has recognised the fact that newspapers could be contaminated with metallic contaminants, mineral oils and other harmful chemicals, which could cause serious medical problems, especially with older people and children.

The FSSAI has stated that newspapers must not be used to wrap, cover or serve food products and must also not be used as absorbent paper for absorbing the excess oil in case of fried foods. The FSSAI has requested all Commissioners of Food Safety in the states and union territories to initiate a campaign to generate awareness amongst the people and to discourage the use of newspapers in relation to food products.