Amul’s stand on ‘milk’ has been vindicated. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has dismissed three complaints filed by animal rights organizations — Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC), People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Sharan India — who had complained against homegrown dairy giant’s ‘Myths vs Facts’ advt which, according to Amul, was to expose the falsity behind myths that were being circulated regarding –“MILK”.
The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that markets the country’s largest dairy organisation had come under attack after this advertisement that was issued on March 24.
The complainants alleged that the contentions made in the advertisement were false. They further claimed that milk is not a complete food, is harmful to health and is less nutritious than plantbased food. They also claimed that dairy farming is not good for cattle as they are subjected to cruelty and that plant-based beverages are a more sustainable food system as compared to dairy milk.
Amul in its response presented statutory provisions incorporated under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the allied regulations while refuting the allegations as “false, baseless and motivated”.
ASCI observed that plant-based milk is not covered under the definition of ‘milk’ as per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It upheld Amul’s contention that “plant-based beverages are impersonating and masquerading as dairy products”.
As per FSSAI guidelines, milk is considered as a vegetarian product. Plant-based beverages also have proteins and beneficial minerals, however, most plant-based milks have lower protein content than milk, ASCI observed.
ASCI observed that there is sufficient scientific data to prove that milk is nutritious and a rich source of calcium, vitamins, carbohydrates, fat, minerals and protein. “Thus, milk can be called complete food as it contains all essential nutritive ingredients required for sustenance,” it observed.
GCMMF officials said that the advt was issued in public interest and out of concern after sudden surge in misleading articles and videos published by various individuals/entities claiming to be animal activists, accusing the dairy industry of being involved in animal cruelty and defaming Amul and its products.
“Such articles and videos continuously circulate false and misleading information such as —“dairy industry inflicts cruelty on animals”, “milk causes cancer and various other ailments”, “plant-based beverages are healthier than milk” and “plant-based beverages can be legally termed as ‘milk’,” a GCMMF official said.
Amul in recent times has initiated legal proceedings against such articles and videos before Delhi High Court through its counsel advocate Abhishek Singh. The HC in such cases has either passed injunctions against individuals directing them to remove the disparaging contents or have directed them to remove all references towards Amul.