The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Advertising Standards Council of India, a self regulatory body committed towards protecting the legitimate interests of consumers, have recently signed a memorandum of understanding, to track and report misleading advertisements.
In terms of a press release, the FSSAI has stated that the ASCI would be able to take up and process consumer complaints in relation to misleading advertisements. In case of any non-compliance with the recommendations of the ASCI, based on its findings, the ASCI would report such non-compliance to the FSSAI, who would in turn take appropriate action against such food business operator under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The alliance between the FSSAI and the ASCI should definitely bring about professionalism in relation to evaluation of advertisements, given that the ASCI comprises of members of high repute from the advertising industry. The ASCI, has so far had an impressive track record and a positive impact, in relation to misleading advertising, with more than a majority of advertisers having modified or withdrawn their advertisements, pursuant to complaints against such advertisements being upheld by the ASCI.
The memorandum of understanding, however, does not address the action that may be taken by the FSSAI against misleading advertisements, whether withdrawn or modified, based on the decisions of the ASCI. The FSSA clearly prohibits advertising of food products which are misleading or deceiving and a violation would result in the penalties set out there under. Thus, it may be concluded that the violation of the FSSA in relation to misleading advertisements would not be condoned by withdrawing or modifying the advertisement based on a decision of the ASCI.