McDonald’s faces regulatory heat over ‘unhealthy’ advertisement

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on November 23, 2019

FSSAI: Ad trashing vegetables, freshlycooked food is a matter of grave concern

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has pulled up US-burger chain McDonald’s for its print advertisements stating that they are in contravention of the provisions of the advertising regulations that do not allow companies to promote their food as meal replacement.

Referring to print ads by McDonald’s in newspapers that stated, ‘ Stuck with Ghiya-Tori Again ? Make the 1+1 Combo you Love’, FSSAI said that its designated officers at New Delhi and Mumbai have issued show-cause notices to the company for contravening the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations 2018, as to why further action should not be initiated against the company.

The FSSAI said that irresponsible advertising and marketing and the tendency of food companies to disparage freshly-cooked food and vegetables that are healthier is a matter of grave concern.

“Such advertisements are against national efforts for promoting healthier and right eating habits, especially among young children, with the aim to ensure safe and wholesome food for them so that the kids feel better, grow better and learn better,” the food safety authority added.

In a statement, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said that food companies must desist from issuing advertisements/publicity materials which are in violation of the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, and rules/regulations.

He added that the FSSAI is committed to ensuring safe and wholesome food for all citizens.

According to the FSS (Advertising and Claims) Regulations 2018, advertisements should not undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles and also shall not promote or portray their food and beverages as meal replacement, unless specifically permitted by the FSSAI.

A violation of these regulations can attract a penalty up to Rs. 10 lakh under Section (53) of Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006.

The food safety authority also said that it is in the process of finalising regulations to ensure safe and wholesome food for school children which proposes not to allow high fat, salt and sugar products to be sold or advertised to school children in school premises or within 50 metres of the school campus.

In India, Hardcastle Restaurants is the master franchise that operates McDonald’s branded restaurants in the South and West regions. In the North and East regions, the burger chain’s restaurants are run by the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Connaught Plaza Restaurants Pvt Ltd. According to sources, the show- cause notice has been sent to both Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt Ltd and Connaught Plaza Restaurants.

‘Print advt not issued by us’

When contacted, a spokesperson for Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt Ltd clarified, “Hardcastle Restaurants Private Limited (HRPL) operates restaurants in West and South India and the print ad in question was not issued by us. We have already written to the FSSAI clarifying the same.”

Connaught Plaza Restaurants did not respond to queries sent by BusinessLine .

Published on November 22, 2019

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