Packaged drinks: Laws require companies to give disclosure about contents: CCP

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.— File photo


.— File photo

An inquiry report of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) against fruit juice manufacturers revealed that various laws and regulations require companies to give complete disclosure and information about the contents of the packaged drinks.

According to sources, Fair Trade Watchdog has caught six companies misleading consumers by marketing and selling their artificial juices as original, without additives and 100 percent pure, and started legal proceedings against these popular brands for prima facie contravention of Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010.

Artificial juices are squeezed from the fruits or vegetables and then a lot of sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors, colouring and enhancers are added to make them remain fresh for the long days after they are packaged. Natural ingredients (essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, microorganisms) are lost during the process of pasteurization.

While artificial juices have longer shelf life due to pasteurization, and they can be consumed after long days, natural juices, on the other hand, have very shorter shelf life and required to be consumed immediately after its preparation due to no pasteurization. These juices cannot be stored for a long time.

Acting upon a formal complaint, an inquiry conducted by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) started that consumers are concerned about chemical additives, colours, and preservatives and they want more natural foods. While quoting the labelling requirements of the Punjab Pure Food Rules, 2007, the inquiry report stated if made from concentrate, the package must clearly state “A juice made from concentrate.”

The complainant had stated that various fruit juice manufactures are running deceptive marketing campaigns for their products containing claims such as “100% pure and natural”, “rich in vitamins” and “No added sugar, colours or preservatives”.

Analyzing the complaint and the various products being sold in the market, the CCP’s inquiry stated that there are three types of fruit beverages in the market: juices, nectars, and still drinks, each categorized on the basis of actual fruit juice content in them.

It added that juices contain only the natural ingredients from fruits and vegetables. The juice undergoes a mild pasteurization process before packaging to ensure that consumers get a safe, high quality product, without any risk of unwanted micro-organism. Nectar is a fruit juice that is thick and is mostly made from apricots, peaches, and pears. The juice or the puree is diluted with water and sugar is added to make it drinkable. The fruit juice content in nectar can vary from 25 percent to 99 percent. And finally, still drinks contain less than 25 percent of fruit content.

The inquiry report stated that various laws and regulations require companies to give complete disclosure and information about the contents of the packaged drinks. Similarly, Section 10 (a) of the Competition Act prohibits the distribution of false or misleading information that is capable of harming the business interests of another undertaking; and Section 10 (b) forbids the distribution of false or misleading information to consumers, including the distribution of information lacking a reasonable basis, related to the price, character, method or place of production, properties, suitability for use, or quality of goods.