News Mobile, June 30, 2016

By Udai Mehta and Kanika Balani

The growing unrest among consumers abroad, over the safety of personal care products, has raised concerns about the safety of such products in India as well. Series of cases of death and injury filed against the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Company in the US and Reckitt Benckiser in South Korea, brings to light the associated risks to Indian consumers, given the global nature of markets, which cuts across boundaries. Moreover, the risk is not just limited to the personal care products, but is prevalent in the whole of FMCG industry, as was witnessed in the case of Maggi noodles, quite recently. Owing to the huge market size of FMCG products in India ($13.1 Billion), there is a need to raise the alarm bells in the minds of Indian consumers and government machinery. Thus, the question one needs an answers to how safe are Indian consumers and how effective is our consumer protection machinery?

In the wake of recent verdict by a US court against the J&J Company, the Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration (FDA) collected baby powder samples of J&J and other talcum powder brands for testing from across the state to check if they follow the rules laid down under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is yet another regulator, which has been pro-active in issuing product recall orders to companies. Apart from the Nestle Maggi recall order, the list includes products of Amway India Enterprises, Energy Drinks such as Monster Energy Drink, Cloud 9, Tzinga, and Jagdale Industries’ Mulmin drops and capsules.

These facts might create a Samaritan like imagery of the Indian regulators. To further add to this imagery, the elaborate mechanisms for consumer grievance redressal have also been established, under various statues. A three tier quasi- judicial system of consumer dispute redressal, set up under the Consumer Protection Act, along with several provisions to impose penalties on the offenders under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Food Safety and Standards could be referred as the systems of resort for the Indian consumers.

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