New Delhi: A body of nutrition experts has written to actor Amitabh Bachchan against what they believe is misleading promotion of a biscuit by him, the New Indian Express has reported.
The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest or NAPi identifies itself as a national think tank on nutrition, consisting of independent experts in epidemiology, human nutrition, community nutrition and paediatrics, medical education, administration and management.
Its convenor is Dr Arun Gupta, a paediatrician. Gupta told TNIE that a commercial for ‘Britannia Milk Bikis’ biscuits is “deceptive” as it discredits home-cooked and authentic food. He also told the newspaper that the biscuit’s sugar, fat and sodium levels were ‘high’ and did not meet the World Health Organisation criteria.
In the letter sent on December 28, 2022, NAPi says it is “shocked and surprised” to learn that Bachchan has chosen to endorse the biscuit in a television show for children.
“We want to draw attention to the fact that the advertisement for the biscuit brand misleads consumers by equating an unhealthy, ultra-processed and pre-packaged food product which is an industrial formulation, with real foods like ‘atta roti’ and a glass of milk,” the letter says.
NAPi, through the letter, and Gupta in his interview to TNIE sought to impress that families could be influenced to consume the biscuits, replace it with real family foods and begin a cycle of addiction to unhealthy pre-packaged products with high sugar.
This, they say, could in turn lead to childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases in later life.
‘It is essentially a high-sugar product, or what is now referred to as empty calories, and is neither healthy food nor nutritious,” the letter said.
The letter also sought to remind Bachchan that earlier, he had renounced his deal with the aerated drink Pepsi. In 2018, Bachchan had been similarly urged to snap ties with Horlicks, due to its high sugar content and its high price.
“Finally, we urge you to end your association with Britannia Milk Bikis and request you to avoid endorsing high sugar, sodium, and fat products in the future in the public interest,” they wrote.
Gupta noted that the Food Safety Standards Act Act 2006 prohibits the misleading advertisement of food products.