Tall claims: Case Against Complan
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09 July 2010
By Malathy Iyer
The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed a chargesheet in the Mazgaon metropolitan magistrate’s court against health drink Complan’s advertising claim that it can add two inches to children’s height.
The FDA’s chargesheet names seven officials of Heinz India in its petition dated May 3, 2010, stating the offence as“an exaggerated advertisement on television channels about food article Complan”.
The company denied any knowledge about the case. In an email response, Heinz India officials said,“We are not aware of any such complaint having been filed. We stand by our claim and would defend the same with appropriate research study.” But FDA joint commissioner (food) C B Pawar told TOI that a month–long investigation had preceded the filing of the case.
What adds an interesting dimension to the case is the medical movement behind it. The mother who worries about her son being teased“half ticket” appears to have incensed paediatricians.
Complan says its claim was based on a study by a TN university on 900 children in 7–12 age group. Those who drank Complan along with a regular diet grew faster than those only on regular diet
Pediatrician R K Anand rubbishes study cited by Complan, says if a child is given extra nutrition along with a normal diet, he or she is bound to grow better COMPLAN CONFLICT Doctors began campaign 30 yrs ago
Mumbai: Health drink Complan was in a soup over its claim that it can add two inches to children’s height. The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration has filed a chargesheet against the company’s claim.
The advertisement seems to have angered paediatricians who are questioning the basis of the claim. In fact, the movement began over 30 years ago when paediatrician Dr R K Anand took on MNC might for suggesting that branded milk products could transform your infant into a“bonnie, bonnie baby”.
In the late 1970s, Anand along with like–minded doctors formed the Association for Consumers’ Action on Safety & Health (ACASH) and moved the Indian government into formulating the Infant Milk Substitute Act to stop using pictures of babies on tins that could lure mothers to buy the products.
In 2009, after being flooded with queries by many mothers about Complan’s claims to add two inches, Anand acted again. On Wednesday – months after filing an appeal to the original RTI application – he got a copy of the FDA chargesheet.
According to the chargesheet, a copy of which is with TOI, FDA has complained against Heinz India in the chief metropolitan court, Mazgaon, for violating the provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 and Rules. Seven officials of the company have been named in the chargesheet.
What complan says
In an email response from Heinz India,“Our claim that children who drink Complan growing taller than others who don’t is based on an independent scientific study conducted by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition of a reputed university in Tamil Nadu. The study proves that children who drink Complan along with a regular diet grow significantly faster in height compared to those who had only regular diet which is not properly planned.”
What paediatricians say
Dr R K Anand, from Jaslok Hospital says:“If a child is given extra nutrition along with normal diet, he or she is bound to grow better.” Delhibased Dr H P S Sachdev says,“What is the rationale for doing this trial in 7 to 12 years old children when the burden of malnutrition is greatest in under–five children. Obviously, the results cannot be extrapolated for children of all ages.”