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A stinging affair: Dabur and Marico’s Saffola Honey knock on ASCI’s doors…

… Claiming the rival brand misleads on passing the NMR test that’s become a standard for honey's ‘purity’.

FMCG major Dabur India has claimed rival Marico’s Saffola Honey is adulterated and is filing a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body of the advertising industry in India.

This development takes place after the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi-based public interest research and advocacy organization, on 2 December 2020 said major honey brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami (Zandu Pure Honey) had failed a key purity test conducted by a German laboratory.

Also Read: Pure hai na? Major honey brands like Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami fail adulteration test

Out of the 13 honey brands’ samples, the CSE had sent for testing, Saffola Honey was the only big brand among the three which cleared the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) test that is administered across the world to test honey for its purity. While the test is not a norm in India, it is mandatory for honey meant for export.

A Dabur spokesperson, however, said, “Saffola Honey sample from the market has failed the NMR test. Test reports clearly indicate presence of sugar syrup in Saffola honey. Their claim on NMR test is misleading the consumers.”

The spokesperson went on to say that The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) clarification on December 3, 2020, has clearly reinforced that their 22 mandatory tests, including specific test like SMR, are the most stringent tests globally to detect all the potential adulterants and sugar in honey.

“Dabur has cleared all the above FSSAI-mandated tests, including SMR, besides voluntarily conducting NMR test periodically to ensure that our consumers get 100% Pure honey with no added sugar/syrups or any other adulterants,” remarked the spokesperson.

On the other hand, a Marico spokesperson said that on 3 December 2020, the company had filed a complaint before ASCI wherein it challenged the claim made by ‘Dabur India Ltd.’ that “Dabur Honey has passed the German NMR test”. The FMCG major said the complaint has been admitted by ASCI and taken on record for further hearing.

The spokesperson remarked that Marico had filed an intra-industry complaint dated October 01, 2020, before ASCI, against “NMR TESTED PURE HONEY” claim by Dabur for its product Dabur Honey. The claim “NMR tested” was considered false and misleading by implication and omission and UPHELD under Chapter 1.4 of the ASCI Code.

And the spokesperson stressed that every batch of Saffola Honey passes 60+ tests, including the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) technology… in the best in class international laboratories to ensure that it is 100% pure, free from added sugars and free from any form of adulteration.

A new buzz to India's honey wars

These claims and accusations add to the ongoing feud between Dabur Honey and Saffola Honey.

Also Read: Dabur Honey extols purity and quality, takes indirect dig at Saffola Honey in new ad

In August 2020, Saffola Honey had released its first ad where it touted its purity and mentioned its honey was tested using NMR and was “free from any form of adulteration and with no added sugar.”

And in October, Dabur Honey released an where it not only spoke about it passing the NMR test but took a dig at Saffola Honey as what appears to be a bottle of Dabur Honey but is, in fact, a lookalike. This happened because, in June of this year, Dabur had dragged Saffola to court. The accusation was that Saffola Honey had imitated the design and bottle of Dabur Honey.