While it will not be politically correct to say that most companies lie, I think you will all agree that they do not tell us the whole truth either. Many of them hide, conceal, camouflage, or omit a few facts, which if revealed may influence their sales. For instance, if a soda brand were to admit that their product had no nutritional value and came packed with side effects, would you buy that?
Yet, you have the right to know all that and much more about everything that you are ‘paying for’ to consume, especially if it is food and connected with your wellbeing.
If you are reading this, then you are certainly already aware of many things and the recent noodle-brand controversy may have made you wiser and more alert. Now what worries you and many others is the fact that every department store that you visit stocks hundreds of ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook food items and all claim to be ‘certified’, etc.
The foremost thing that we need sooner is a stringent regime. Compared to the regulations in the Europe and the United States, our country is quite lenient. Thankfully, the government has taken notice and the food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is already working on a complete overhaul of norms for labelling of food products. It is in the process of putting in place stricter norms for the packaged food industry and food importers.
However, should we really expect FSSAI to be able to keep a check on every product on an everyday basis? On the Internet, I could not find how many markets/retailers are to be covered by a food inspector or how many surprise visits does he need to make to keep a check or handle complaints. In any case, even if one inspector is supposed to check only one shop, can he really go through all the products and see if their labels are as per the norms, leave alone recommending some for hygiene tests. To strengthen the vigil and create a deterring environment,
Consumer Voice has started market surveillance and random testing of packaged foods and food supplements. A team of experts is busy testing and verifying food products and their claims, and the reports on the first few products are already in this issue.
Nevertheless, while Voice’s efforts will add a little more value to the government’s system, it alone may not be enough to initiate the mass movement that the country needs at this point to ensure that no company will ever dare to put an objectionable product in the market. I see hope in a mass campaign that can make every individual an aware and vigilant consumer – an individual who keeps check on the labelling, reports doubtful products, questions companies’ claims, and does not hesitate in raising a ‘voice’ when needed. Having just one such aware consumer per shop is not a difficult task. Two will solve the entire problem.
On that note, we at Consumer Voice wish our readers a wonderful and safe year ahead.