Coconut Development Board told to modify advertisement

Coconut Development Board told to modify advertisement

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the regulatory body for advertisements, has issued a notice to the Coconut Development Board and has directed it to modify an advertisement after it failed to substantiate the claims made in an advertisement.

The complaint was filed by Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA) president Narendra Nayak with ASCI, on an advertisement published in a magazine in May. The notice was served to the advertisers whose replies were not satisfactory and they could not produce any evidence to substantiate their claims. The complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) at their meeting.

Nayak said the advertisement claimed that coconut oil was highly nutritious, rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals; natural antiseptic boosts energy immune system; restores thyroid function and increases metabolic rate; reduces obesity; an antioxidant, improves bowel movements; good for kidneys, skin and hair and will not increase cholesterol and heart attacks.  

The ASCI had approached the advertiser for their response in addressing the grievances of the complainant and forwarded the full details of the complaint, verbatim, to the advertiser with a request to respond to the same. The advertiser was offered an opportunity for personal hearing with the ASCI Secretariat which they did not avail, but submitted their written response. The advertiser had stated in their response that they have published the advertisement for promoting coconut, coconut oil and Farmer Producer organizations (FPO) with the consent from Dr D M Vasudevan, MD, FRCPath; head, Postgraduate Programs and Research who has conducted a project on coconut oil at Amrita Institute of Medical Science, Kochi. As claim support data, the advertiser submitted item-wise reply with literature citing and published research papers, textbook reference; USDA Nutrient Data base, and Research work conducted on coconut oil by Amrita Institute of Medical Science.

The claim support data submitted by the advertiser was reviewed by the technical expert of ASCI. The CCC carefully viewed the print advertisement and examined the complaint and the detailed response given by the advertiser as well as the opinion of the Technical expert presented at the meeting. The CCC noted that the advertiser had on one hand stated in their response that their advertisement does not deal with coconut oil and whole coconut separately; but on the other hand, it is seen that in the print advertisement that all the benefits are featured under “The multifarious benefit of coconut oil” under a very prominent headline: “From farm to your home, invisible hands are at work to bring you the world’s healthiest oil, the coconut oil.”

The advertiser has been advised to withdraw or modify the said advertisement by July 27.

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