The Legal Metrology Division (“LM Division”) of the Department of Consumer Affairs, on 16th August 2022, invited public consultation on the proposed introduction of a provision to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 (“LMPC Rules”) for making declarations pertaining to a commodity that contains more than one constituent on the front side of the package of the commodity. The deadline for submitting comments and suggestions on the proposed amendment is 31st August 2022.
As per the Press Release by the Department of Consumer Affairs, the LM Division has proposed the amendment after it noticed that many manufacturers/importers/packers have failed to make important declarations, including the main ingredients of the commodity, on the front side of the package which is necessary in the interest of consumers and also violates the consumers’ “Right to be informed”. According to the LM Division, the declaration of unique selling point / unique selling proposition (“USP”) of the product on the front side of the package without its percentage of composition is against consumers’ rights.
The proposed provision has been introduced as Rule 6(1)(ba) to the LMPC Rules as a sub-rule to Rule 6(1)(b) which requires the mandatory declaration of the common or generic name of the commodity on the label of the packaged commodity. The proposed sub-rule, i.e. Rule 6(1)(ba), to the LMPC Rules requires that if a commodity contains more than one constituent, then a declaration of two or more prime constituents shall be made on the front side of the package along with the Brand Name/Logo. Such declaration of two or more prime constituents shall contain the percentage/quantity of the USP of the product in the same font size as the USP declaration.
However, the proposed amendment states that the said sub-rule will not be applicable to electrical or mechanical commodity.
The introduction of the proposed provision in the LMPC Rules appears to have been proposed with the intent of ensuring that the consumer is not misled and to strengthen consumers’ rights by allowing consumers to make an informed choice about their purchase.
While the proposed provision appears to mainly apply to the food & beverage and cosmetics industries and has made an exception for electrical and mechanical commodities, which products will specifically be within the scope of such “electrical and mechanical commodities” is not clear which in turn may lead to confusion regarding the scope of application of this requirement.
Also, it is pertinent to note that there are specific statutes, that govern labelling requirements for food & beverage and cosmetic products including stipulating the manner in which declarations regarding constituents/ingredients of a specific category of product are to be made. Accordingly, introduction of such a provision without streamlining labelling requirements in other specific statutes could potentially lead to consumer confusion and repetition of regulatory compliances.
Whether the proposed provision will have the intended effect of allowing consumers to make an informed choice, or not, will become clear in the fullness of time.
Link to the invitation for public consultation for declaring two or more prime constituents of the commodity on front side of the package with the Brand Name/Logo - https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/latestnews/Public%20invite%20upto%2031.8.2022.pdf