Modi Government Directs E-commerce Sites to Remove Drinks from ‘Healthy’ Category, Impacting Bournvita and Others

The notification from the commerce ministry specifically directs all e-commerce websites to remove drinks or beverages, including Bournvita

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The Narendra Modi government has issued a directive to all e-commerce platforms, instructing them to remove drinks and beverages from the ‘healthy drinks’ category. This move represents a significant setback for leading brands like Bournvita and others operating in the segment.

According to a report by Moneycontrol, the order from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry comes in the wake of observations made by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The NCPCR stated that there is no clear definition of a health drink under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS Act) 2006, rules, and regulations, as submitted by FSSAI and Mondelez India.

The notification from the commerce ministry specifically directs all e-commerce websites to remove drinks or beverages, including Bournvita, from the ‘health drinks’ category on their platforms. This move follows closely on the heels of a directive from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which urged e-commerce platforms to refrain from categorizing dairy, cereal, or malt-based beverages as ‘health drinks’ or ‘energy drinks’.

Highlighting the absence of a clear definition for ‘health drink’ in existing laws, the FSSAI emphasized that ‘energy drinks’ are essentially flavored water-based beverages, not health drinks, as per legal definitions. Incorrect labeling and categorization, the FSSAI noted, could mislead consumers, prompting the need for corrective action by e-commerce platforms.

NCPCR chief Priyank Kanoongo reinforced these concerns in a letter addressed to the Ministry, FSSAI, and relevant departments of states and union territories. Kanoongo emphasized that beverages like Bournvita should not be marketed or sold under the ‘health drink’ category, citing potential risks of misinformation and consumer deception.

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