What led Bournvita to lose its health drink tag? All you need to know


A year after facing controversy over the branding of its product ‘BournVita’ as healthy and beneficial for child growth, Mondelez-owned Cadbury, has again landed in soup after the Ministry of Commerce issued an advisory. In its letter to e-commerce websites, the Ministry asked them to remove beverages like Bournvita from the ‘health drink’ category. 

Even though the advisory mentioned Bournvita, it referred to a larger category of similar products that have been sold by e-commerce websites as ‘health drinks’, and asked their removal of the tag from all such products.

Why did the govt issue ‘health drink’ advisory?

The advisory issued by the Commerce and Industry Ministry focused on the blatant use of the term ‘health drinks’ on e-commerce websites, as well as in advertisements. Referring to an inquiry by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the Ministry underlined that there is “no ‘health drink’ defined under FSS Act 2006, rules and regulations submitted by FSSAI and Mondelez India Food Pvt Ltd.”

Since, there is no such term as ‘health drinks’ in FSS Act 2006, the use of the term for beverages is inappropriate. Hence, all the e-commerce companies/portals have been advising to remove drinks and beverages, including Bournvita, from the category of health drinks from their platforms/sites.

“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,” the Commerce and Industry Ministry said in an advisory to all e-commerce companies.

Bournvita controversy

Last year, Bournvita entered into a controversy after a viral Instagram reel questioned the tall claims made by the beverage of boosting immunity and providing several health benefits. 

In April 2023, influencer Revant Himatsingka, known as foodpharmer by the Instagram community, shared a video, in which he claimed that every 100 gm of Bournvita contains 50 g of sugar. 

The giant confectionary producer took legal action against the influencer after which he removed the video from his social media account. 

NCPCR inquiry against Bournvita

Within a month of the controversy, the apex child rights body asked Cadbury to withdraw all its misleading advertisements, packaging and labels. The instruction came after it received a complaint alleging that Bournvita brands itself as a health drink as it improves ‘children’s growth and development’ even when it contains a high amount of sugar, reported Economic Times referring to PTI. 

The NCPCR also sent a notice to Cadbury asking it to send within seven days a detailed explanation or report on the matter. 

Bournvita’s clarification of influencer claim

After the controvery, Bournvita released a clarification on the matter rejecting the claims made by the Instagram influencer. “As we continued to witness an abnormal and unusual amount of traction on the post, we were constrained to take legal recourse to avoid misinformation. We also stated to clarify and share the correct facts to allay the concerns of our consumers,” Mondelez India said in its statement.

The company also clarified that every serving of 20 gm of Bournvita contains 7.5 grams of added sugar, which is approximately one and a half teaspoons. The said amount is less than the daily recommended intake limits of sugar for children.

“We would again like to reinforce that the formulation has been scientifically crafted by a team of nutritionists and food scientists to offer the best of taste and health. All our claims are verified and transparent and all ingredients have regulatory approvals. All the necessary nutritional information is mentioned on the pack for consumers to make informed choices,” Mint quoted Bournvita earlier.

Bournvita slashes sugar content by nearly 15 per cent 

Months after the controversy, the confectionary brand chose to reduce the added sugar content in Bournvita by nearly 15 per cent, Himatsingka claimed in another video released in December last year.

“This is probably the first time in history that a social media video has led to a food giant reducing their sugar content! If one video can result in a 15 per cent reduction in added sugar, imagine what we can achieve if all of us start reading food labels before we buy anything!” he wrote in the caption of his Instagram video.

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Published: 13 Apr 2024, 08:10 PM IST

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