Burger King drops sodas from kids’ meal menus


Burger King has pulled the plug on fountain sodas in kids’ meals, following similar menu changes by McDonald’s and Wendy’s, reports NBC News. Instead of soda, Burger King will offer 100% apple juice, fat-free milk or low fat chocolate milk.

However, a customer can still ask for a soda to be included in the meal, the company said. The menu change comes after advocacy groups pressured the fast food chain. It is felt the change will help children eat better and also set them on the path of healthier eating as fewer kids will become conditioned to think that soda should be a part of every eating out occasion.

Indians consume more calories via homemade food


Indian consumers on average purchased just 151 calories each day through packaged food and soft drinks in 2014, less than a fifth of the global average of 765 calories, according to The Economic Times. In fact, India ranked among the lowest in sugar, fat, carbohydrates and salt content purchase from outside food, according to Euromonitor International.

Indians consume calories mostly in unpackaged format through homemade food which is generally calorie-dense compared to western countries where cooked food is protein-rich and relatively healthy but consumption of processed products is several times more. Indian consumers have preference for street food which is mostly deep-fried and calorie-rich. Also, two of India’s largest food categories — snacks and biscuits — have seen limited experimentation with healthy portfolio.

Govt. sets up portal for misleading ad complaints


The Central Government has launched a dedicated portal (www.gama.gov.in) to help consumers register their grievances against advertisements that they find misleading, false or objectionable in any way, reports DNA.

Launching the portal on 18 March 2015, the Union minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, said that misleading ads had become a big problem. Some products claim that they will help increase height of a person while others claim they will enable a bald person to grow hair. Such claims are dubious and unverified, he said. The ministry is taking this issue seriously, he added.

Common financial redress agency being set up


If your bank sells you an inappropriate insurance policy, where do you go to complain? To the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI), which oversees insurance companies, or to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which regulates banks?

To address this problem and others, a Financial Redress Agency (FRA) is being set up that will address grievances across all financial products and financial sector regulators, according to www.livemint.com. FRA would be a single window where you can complain across sector regulators such as Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), IRDAI, RBI, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA) and others. A combined platform which any retail consumer of a financial product can approach will go a long way in making the product manufacturers and distributors more accountable, and the investors less wary, it is felt.

Service tax hike to push up banking costs


Banking services such as ATM transactions, debit cards, credit cards, processing of demand drafts and even deploying security guards at ATMs and bank branches will cost more after the service tax is hiked from 12.36% to 14% in Union Budget 2015, according to DNA.

And if the proposed tax to keep India clean — the Swachh Bharat cess – is included, then the effective service tax for the common man would be more pinching at 16%. Banks are studying the impact of the additional cost to quantify how much will be passed on to the customer. Even for companies, the issue of letter of credit, overdraft facilities, and other such matters would attract additional taxes.

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