Bournvita, one of the most common ‘healthy’ chocolate health drink, hit the news headlines in the week gone by, raising questions in the consumers’ minds on reconsidering their purchasing decisions on such health drinks.
Revant Himatsingka, an Instagram influencer claimed that Cadbury's Bournvita contains high sugar content in a viral video. The influencer said Bournvita's tagline "Taiyari Jeet Ki" (preparation for victory) should be ‘Taiyari Diabetes Ki’ (preparation for diabetes) due to its high sugar content. Scientist and Nutrition specialist Dr Abby Philips supported this claim and listed research papers in this defense on TheLiverDoc @theliverdr. The viral video and scientist’s claim further resulted in damaging the brand’s reputation.
To this, Mondelez International issued an official statement claiming that ‘All Ingredients in Bournvita are safe and within permissible limits as per the regulatory guideline’. However, the influencer deleted the video after receiving a legal notice on the same.
To investigate this controversial matter on powdered products further, Zee Business’ prime time show ‘Aapki Khabar, Aapka Fayda’ , invited a panel of health experts -Dr. Jagruti Sanghvi (Sr. Pediatrician, Nanavati Max Hospital) Dr. Swati Maheshwari (Sr. Physician), and Dr. Shweta Khandelwal (Head- Nutrition Research, PHFI). The panel discussion moderated by Deepak Dobhal, senior anchor, Zee Business, discussed facts about natural sugar, added sugars, the claim of ‘clinically proven’ claims by powdered products, responsible parenting, etc. This spread awareness among widespread viewers on the importance of reading and understanding the nutrient value of each of the ingredients printed on each of the neatly packed products.
The emphasis on awareness among consumers and policy implementation resulted in FSSAI taking note of Zee Business and other media reports about Bournvita; to take strict action against violators. It reiterated that the mandate of FSSAI is to lay down science-based standards for food products in the country and enforce the same.
FSSAI said that if the companies fail to toe the guidelines, they will be fined heavily. The regulatory body also claimed that strict action will be taken against violators and said, "Where a claimed health benefit is attributed directly to the product, it shall be based on statistically significant results from well-designed human intervention studies, conducted by or under the guidance of established research institutions, in line with the principles of GCP (Good Clinical Practices) and peer-reviewed or published in a peer-reviewed reputed scientific journal. To ensure compliance with the said provisions the Licensing-cum-Designated Officers notified both at the Central and State levels are empowered to call upon the FBOs to submit scientific evidence for such health claims being made on the products, failing which or in case of unsatisfactory response the FBO is required to withdraw such claims or modify them as per the provisions of the said Regulations failing which the FBO can be penalized with a fine extending up to Rs.10 lakhs, as per Section-53 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, apart from other stringent punishments like suspension/cancellation of license etc. in case of repeated offenses.”
Highlighting the far-fetched impact of the investigative stance, Anil Singhvi, managing editor, Zee Business said, “We, at Zee Business, strongly believe in responsible journalism. Investigating controversies and presenting factual information in shows like ’Aapki Khabar, Aapka Fayda’, ensuring that unfiltered information reaches the Indian households on a timely basis. The latest decision taken by FSSAI post the truth revealed by our investigative team, encourages us to break such controversial chains and continue presenting facts to our viewers The decision on what makes ‘news’ and the need to investigate specific controversial topics across different beats, is taken based on the impact of the ongoing topics and its impact of it on living standards. ”