Government-appointed panel examines claims on Hindustan Unilever’s Kissan Amaze

Thursday, October 15, 2009, 9:20 by Business Editor

In the first incidence of its kind, Hindustan Unilever is being scrutinised by the government for having made “tall claims” on its malted beverage named Kissan Amaze.

The multinational consumer goods major’s claim that its Kissan Amaze gives “33% key brain nutrients” that children requires daily is being examined by a committee set up by the Food Safety and Standards Authority.

The panel will look into whether Hindustan Unilever violated regulatory provisions pertaining to “misleading or deceptive claims on food.”

P I Suvrathan, chairman of the Food Safety and Standards Authority, said the organisation has set up a committee to examine specifically Hindustan Unilever’s claims on Kissan Amaze and also to make out how scientific those claims are.

The committee will study the data that Hindustan Unilever has submitted to it and give its report by December 2009. After studying the data furnished by the company, the Food Safety and Standards Authority will formulate a detailed procedure on “misleading advertisements” on food and beverages, Suvrathan said.

A spokesperson of Hindustan Unilever said the company, after having received a communication from the government around two months ago, submitted to the government “all the research work and all the technical inputs in order to satisfy the authorities concerned.” The management of Hindustan Unilever, the spokesperson added, believes that it has satisfied the authorities by answering all the questions they had asked.

It was in February 2008 that Hindustan Unilever launched Kissan Amaze, which the company touted as a “brainfood specifically designed for schoolgoing children.” The product is being test-marketed in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Hindustan Unilever claims that each serving of Kissan Amaze provides “the right type of brain nutrients, in the right combination,” giving children 33% of the nutrients they require for their mental development.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority’s 5-member panel, headed by Vasantha Muthuswamy, former deputy director-general the Indian Council of Medical Research, is to examine Hindustan Unilever’s claims on Kissan Amaze pertaining to “brain development” in order to ascertain if the claims are backed by scientific evidence.

In addition, the committee will study if the claims have any adverse impact on children or discourage their healthy eating habits.

Other scientists and experts also are likely to test Kissan Amaze.

At the time of launching Kissan Amaze in February 2008, Hindustan Unilever had declared that the product has come after four years of research and development conducted at Hindustan Unilever Unilever’s Research Centre (HLRC). The company also had averred that Kissan Amaze – a “wholesome nutritional product that is 100% vegetarian” – contains major nutrients, which the body can easily absorb.

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is the biggest fast-moving consumer goods company (FMCG) in India.

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