Honey is the new point of contention after the Centre for Science and Environment came out with its report that honey sold by several major brands in India was found adulterated with sugar syrup. Now, Dabur and Marico are going up against each other regarding their honey brands, with each filing a complaint against the other with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
"Honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya, all failed the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test," the CSE study said. The test is done to check the purity of honey.
In a statement, Marico said it filed a complaint on December 3 against Dabur with ASCI challenging the claim that Dabur Honey passed the German NMR test. “The complaint has been admitted by ASCI and taken on record for further hearing,” Marico said.
Prior to this, it said it filed an intra-industry complaint dated on October 1 against the same body against Dabur over its claim of “NMR tested pure honey.”
“The claim “NMR tested” was considered false and misleading by implication and omission and UPHELD under Chapter 1.4 of the ASCI Code,” Marico said in a statement.
Dabur has also announced that it will be filing a complaint against Saffola Honey as their sample from the market failed the NMR test.
“Test reports clearly indicate the presence of sugar syrup in Saffola honey. Their claim on NMR test is misleading the consumers,” a Dabur statement read.
FSSAI representatives had reportedly enquired why CSE had not asked for 'SMR' (specific marker for rice), in the spiked samples that were for testing. FSSAI had earlier said in a statement that the SMR test had been made mandatory and is a more focused test to detect adulteration of rice syrup in honey.
According to the CSE statement, FSSAI officials said SMR was required to detect adulteration by rice syrup and that the other tests were unable to detect rice syrup adulteration.
Dabur had said in its statement that the FSSAI reinforced that its 22 mandatory tests — including the SMR — “are the most stringent tests globally to detect all the potential adulterants and sugar in honey”.
“Dabur has cleared all the above FSSAI-mandated tests, including SMR, besides voluntarily conducting NMR test periodically to ensure that our consumers get 100% Pure honey with no added sugar/syrups or any other adulterants,” it said in a statement, claiming it is the largest selling honey brand.
Marico’s Saffola, on the other hand, claimed to guarantee 100% purity, and that each batch passes over 60 tests, including the NMR, to ensure it is not adulterated.
Saffola Honey is produced at a USFDA registered plant with state-of-the-art technology ensuring robust quality checks and controls. Marico also said its honey is compliant with the FSSAI’s quality parameters.
ASCI told PTI that it has received four complaints against honey brands in the last few months, of which three were upheld as advertising could not adequately substantiate the claims they made.