What is ASCI?
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), established in 1985, is a self-regulatory voluntary organization of the advertising industry in India. It is a non-Government body. ASCI is committed to the cause of self- regulation in advertising ensuring the protection of the interest of consumers. ASCI seeks to ensure that advertisements conform to its Code for Self-Regulation, which requires advertisements to be legal, decent, honest and truthful and not hazardous or harmful while observing fairness in competition.
What is FSSAI?
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is established to exercise the powers granted to, and to perform the functions assigned to, it under the Food Safety and Standards Act. It is called the Food Authority. The Food Authority is a body corporate, having perpetual succession and a seal with power to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable, and to contract and shall, by the said name, sue or be sued. FSSAI provides food license which is mandatory for all the food-related businesses.
FSSAI and ASCI join Hands
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) signed the Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) with Advertising Standards Council of India, the self-regulatory body of advertisement industry to increase the monitoring on misleading advertisements in the Food and Beverages sector.
FSSAI has taken serious steps against misleading advertisements related to food and beverages. FSSAI entered into an MOU with ASCI, which provided a paradigm shift towards handling such scenarios and also brought transparency and accountability with stakeholders participation.
ASCI has asked Dabur, Cargill, ITC, Patanjali, Ayurved to modify their ads in the recent past for being errant advertisers. Two of the country’s top regulators — the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) — will join forces to press down on misleading food & beverage advertisements. It is not the first time when the two regulators have worked together. In the past, the two regulators have worked informally, but this time the arrangement will likely be formalized. FSSAI Chief Executive Officer Pawan Agarwal said in meetings about their tie-up between the two regulators.
Besides big advertisers, the list of errant companies against whom complaints were upheld by ASCI between January and March 2016 also included small and regional brands, which makes the task even more challenging for regulators since regional and local players abound in food. The move by the two regulators to work together is a welcome one.
Among the companies that ASCI had written to modify ads in March — the last available month — are ITC for its Aashirvaad Multigrain Atta; Patanjali Ayurved for its Kachi Ghani Mustard Oil; and Gemini Edibles & Fats for its Freedom Rice Bran Oil. In January and February 2016, the list of errant advertisers included Dabur, Cargill, Pan Parag, Coca-Cola, Perfetti Van Melle, and Ruchi Soya.
In the event the advertiser, it does not comply with ASCI’s directions, the FSSAI will step in to take action. In the case of the FSSAI, any complaint received by the food safety regulator ASCI will step in and write to the advertiser concerned to modify the ad based on its prescribed guidelines.