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This week in FMCG: Honey adulteration controversy continues; CSE vs FSSAI, firms launch sugar-free products

NMR is the advance technology to detect adulteration in honey with sugar syrups by molecular separation and identification. It is the only test that can detect the new modified ‘Chinese sugar’ being used to adulterate honey.

December 13, 2020 / 10:51 AM IST
A CSE investigation showed recently that most of the major brands are selling adulterated honey in India. (Pixabay)

A CSE investigation showed recently that most of the major brands are selling adulterated honey in India. (Pixabay)

The honey adulteration controversy got dragged to this week as well after Dabur filed a complaint to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against Marico on Dec 6 for its Saffola honey sample being passed through the NMR test.

During the week gone by, Moneycontrol interacted with Amit Khurana, Programme Director of the CSE’s Food Safety and Toxins on the honey adulteration findings.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)'s findings of adulteration in honey by major brands have sparked a silent tussle between the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the NGO.

FMCG industry also witnessed a trend of companies launching low calorie, sugar-free products.

Marico vs Dabur

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Two leading homegrown rival FMCG brands Dabur and Marico are in an open spat with each other over claims regarding their honey brands and have taken the matter to advertising regulator ASCI.

Dabur on Dec 6 said it is filing a complaint against rival Marico before the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for claiming its Saffola Honey sample being passed through the NMR test.

Also Read: Honey adulteration scam explained | Its origins and what it means to you

The Noida-based company claimed Marico's Saffola honey has failed the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test and is misleading the consumers.

Dabur is filing a complaint in ASCI against Marico as their Saffola honey sample from the market has failed the NMR test. "Test reports clearly indicate the presence of sugar syrup in Saffola honey. Their claim on NMR test is misleading the consumers," Dabur claimed in a statement.

However, Dabur's claim was refuted by Marico contending that "Saffola Honey is also compliant with each of the quality parameters mandated by FSSAI".

Earlier, Marico had filed a complaint before the ASCI on October 1, over Dabur's claims of NMR of its honey and was upheld by the regulator.

NMR is the advance technology to detect adulteration in honey with sugar syrups by molecular separation and identification. It is the only test that can detect the new modified ‘Chinese sugar’ being used to adulterate honey.

CSE vs FSSAI

Amit Khurana of CSE told Moneycontrol that Indian standards are not enough to detect adulteration.

He said strengthening these standards is required. “Despite set standards, we do not know whether the FSSAI has been testing. The results are not in the public domain," Khurana said.

Khurana recommended that the government or the FSSAI must test products at the backend as a part of their regular surveillance system and stay informed.

The CSE also stressed that the ring of adulteration needed to be firmly dealt with and that the FSSAI must take urgent steps to stop or break the nexus.

New Launches

In the past few months, FMCG companies have been launching low calorie, sugar-free products as most people are getting health conscious due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some snacking quick bites, Mondelez has launched Cadbury Dairy chocolates with 30 percent less sugar and Bournvita Biscuits. In the ready-to-drink beverages segment, ITC has come up with B Natural plus that has vitamin additives and Marico has added ImmuniVeda, turmeric and kadha Concoction, to its product portfolio.

Dabur has added low-calorie juice packets to its Real Brand line. Danone launched sugar-free adult supplement variation under its Protinex brand which is being promoted as an immunity booster in its campaign.

The trend of healthy living and wellness lifestyle for the conscious consumer is catered to by Ayurveda brands. The sugar-free immunity-boosting Chyawanprash from Dabur, Baidyanath, Zandu, and Patanjali available in the market sell at a premium to the regular product and seeing a demand surge.
Himadri Buch
first published: Dec 13, 2020 10:51 am

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