Sugar Left A Sour Taste? Why Bournvita Lost ‘Health Drink’ Tag

Sugar Left A Sour Taste? Why Bournvita Lost 'Health Drink' Tag

Mondelez has said the sugar in Bournvita is well below the recommended daily sugar limit for children.

New Delhi:

Nearly a year after an influencer raised concerns about the high sugar content in Bournvita and four months since it was reduced, the Centre has asked e-commerce companies to remove the brand and all other drinks and beverages from the ‘health drink’ category.

In its advisory, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has pointed out that the term ‘health drink’ is not defined under the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act 2006 or rules submitted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Mondelez – which owns Bournvita, Cadbury and several other large brands.

“National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory body constituted under Section (3) of the Commission of Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, after its inquiry under Section 14 of CRPC Act 2005 concluded that there is no ‘health drink’ defined under FSS Act 2006, rules and regulations submitted by FSSAI and Mondelez India Food Pvt Ltd,” news agency IANS quoted a notification issued by the ministry on Wednesday as saying. 

In April last year, NCPCR had asked Bournvita to withdraw all “misleading” advertisements, packaging and labels soon after a video by influencer Revant Himatsingka, aka FoodPharmer, highlighting the drink’s high sugar content went viral and sparked widespread criticism. 

Mr Himatsingka had accused Cadbury of making false claims about the health benefits of Bournvita and “miscommunicating” its “nutritional value”. 

“They have 50 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Basically, the entire half of this bag is only sugar”, he had said.

Eight months later, in December last year, Mondelez said it had reduced the quantity of added sugar by 14.4% – from 37.4 grams of added sugar per 100 grams to 32.2 grams per 100 grams. 

Speaking to NDTV after Mondelez’s announcement, the influencer had said the decision was a major win for nutritional education in India. 

“It’s a big win. I know 15% may not sound like much (of a reduction), but for a multinational corporation to do this is pretty staggering. I hope this leads to a chain reaction, and other companies follow suit and try to improve their products. Lakhs of parents are now reading labels for the first time and people are eating slightly more consciously, so it is a huge win overall,” he had said.

The ministry’s notification on Wednesday followed an investigation by the NCPCR which found that the sugar levels in Bournvita were much higher than the acceptable limits. The child rights body had also asked the FSSAI to act against companies labelling supplements ‘health drinks’ and failing to meet guidelines. 

The body has said that ‘health drink’ has not been defined under the FSS Act and labelling any beverage that is a violation of rules. 

‘Below Recommended Sugar Limit’

Mondelez has claimed that the sugar in Bournvita is well below the recommended daily sugar limit for children.

In an earlier statement, the company had said, Bournvita has enjoyed the love and trust of consumers for over seven decades. Bournvita contains nutrients namely Vitamin A, C, D, Iron, Zinc, Copper and Selenium which help build immunity. These have been part of our formulation for several years. We have always called out ‘Helps with healthy functioning of the immune system’ on the back of our pack for several years (even before the Covid-19 pandemic).”

“Every serve of Bournvita has 7.5 grams of added sugar, which is approximately one and a half teaspoons. This is much less than the daily recommended intake limits of sugar for children,” it had said. 

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