India’s apex food regulator, FSSAI, and the ad regulator have asked Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved to explain the advertising campaign for its mustard oil.
The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), a body of domestic edible oil makers, had written to the Food Safety and Standards Association of India and the Advertising Standards Council of India last week saying Patanjali was denigrating rival brands even as it promoted its product.
“We have no issue if Patanjali comes out with a good-quality product. They are free to do it and we welcome it. But, saying that other brands in the market are sub-standard is incorrect. We had written to Patanjali a month-and-a-half ago to withdraw the ads because it was misleading. But, we did not hear from them. We were then compelled to bring this issue to the attention of the regulators,” said B V Mehta, executive director, SEA.
Sources in the know say Patanjali will respond to the notices received from the two regulators shortly.
Officials of Patanjali said its campaign was based on facts and that it had no intention to mislead consumers.
Edible oil companies contest this claim, though. “Our kachhi ghani mustard oil is 100 per cent kachhi ghani and not blended with any other oil or solvent extraction as indicated in the ad (by Patanjali). Commercials like this create confusion in people’s minds. SEA has explained in detail in its letter to the regulators why a campaign like this is misleading. I’m sure they will take cognizance of it,” said Atul Chaturvedi, chief executive officer, Adani Wilmar, the producer of the Fortune brand of edible oil.
This is not the first time that Patanjali has had run-ins with the regulators over its products. In the past, it was pulled up for selling noodles and pasta without licence.