• Posted by CERC India
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CERC takes Nestle India and L’Oreal India to court

Advts of noodles and cleansing water found to be making false claims 

Misleading advertisements dupe consumers into making unwise choices while purchasing products or services. Recently, two advts came to our notice which, on investigation, proved to be misleading as they made blatantly false claims. The advts were of Nestle’s Maggi Nutri-licious Atta Noodmaggiles and L’Oreal’s Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (endorsed by Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt).

Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad, actively monitors, analyses and complains about false, misleading or objectionable advts to the regulatory authorities.

We decided to go a step further this time. Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), an action arm of CERC, filed two cases before the District Forum against Nestle India Ltd and L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd for these misleading advts.

 Making false and misleading claims is considered an unfair trade practice under Section 2(r)(1)(i) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The complaints were also filed as class action suits on behalf of the numerous members of the public who would have been misled by the advts.

Maggi Nutri-licious Atta Noodles: The Maggi advt claims that the product contains “fibre of 3 rotis” and is “packed with veggies”. Questioning the claims, CERS got the product tested at an NABL accredited laboratory.

Claims Vs Facts

Our tests revealed that the product had only 5.63g of fibre against the labelled 6g. Moreover, for the claim of “fibre of 3 rotis” the fibre has to be 10.2g (as per the Indian Food Composition Tables (2017) NIN, ICMR). So the claim was found to be false.

The second claim of being “packed with veggies” also proved to be false. The package of 80g contained only 5g of vegetables. Nestle is trying to project the product as healthy with false claims on fibre and vegetable content.

Additionally, Maggi Nutri-licious Atta Noodles is very high in sodium content. The product contained 985mg/100g of sodium.  As per UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) sodium content of more than 550mg/100g in a product is high.

As such, there was a “defect” in the product as it contained too much sodium and did not match the advertising claim of being “nutri-licious”. The branding of the product as “nutri-licious” by the company, which suggests that the product is delicious as well as nutritious, is false and misleading.

In its complaint, CERS appealed to the consumer court to direct Nestle to pay Rs. 3 lakh, refund the price of the product and issue a corrective advt.  Also, the company should pay compensation and costs to the complainant.

Alia Bhatt endorsed Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water: The TVC shows Alia Bhatt telling friends her secret of cleaning up makeup: “Use Garnier Micellar – pour, press, swipe; Makeup off in just one swipe”.

Questioning the claim, CERC complained to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). ASCI upheld CERC’s complaint finding the advt misleading by exaggeration. Moreover, L’Oreal could not provide any evidence to show that Alia Bhatt had done due diligence prior to endorsement.

Claims Vs Factgarniers

ASCI observed that the claim “make up off in just one swipe”, accompanied by the visual implying complete removal of kajal and lipstick, was not substantiated. The claim was likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers, said ASCI.

To test its performance, CERS purchased the product and found that, contrary to the claims in the advt, it took vigorous scrubbing and additional pouring of the product on the cotton swab to remove the kajal and lipstick. The claim “no harsh rubbing” made on the pack proved to be false. Further, for complete removal of makeup residue, a face wash had to be used and therefore the claim “no makeup residue” also proved false.

In its complaint, CERS appealed to the consumer court to direct L’Oreal to refrain from broadcast of the TVC and issue a corrective advt. In addition, the company should deposit Rs. 50,000 in the Consumer Welfare Fund of Gujarat and pay compensation and costs to the complainant.

Over the years, CERC has made it a mission to curb the menace of misleading advts. In fact, it is currently working on a project on the subject awarded by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), Government of India.

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