• Tea, coffee sectors upset over FSSAI’s ‘chaach & soup’ tweet
    Times of India, 05 December 2020
  • Kolkata: One of the ‘post-festival health tips’ series of advertisements tweeted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has created a furore among tea and coffee lovers.

    Released under hashtags like #Healthtips and #EatRightIndia, the FSSAI had on November 17 had tweeted: “Swap your beverage from tea/coffee to other freshly made alternatives like lemon water, chaach or soup.” Both the tea and coffee sectors vehemently objected to such a sudden and negative campaign and demanded scientific proof behind the “healthier option” claim.

    A few hours after TOI sent a questionnaire via email to FSSAI chairperson Rita Teaotia on Friday afternoon, the ‘Eat Right India’ tweet was removed from its official Twitter handle. The food safety authority has decided to “put up a clarification soon”.

    As a part of its series of media (offline and online) campaigns on post-festival health and wellness tips since November, the said FSSAI advertisement wrote in its tagline: “Switch from tea/coffee to fresh lemon water, coconut water, clear soup, kanji and chaach.” All the tweets were tagged with @PIB_Indian, @MIB_India, @mygovIndia and @MoHFW_India.

    On Thursday, the Tea Board of India wrote a letter to its parent body, the Union commerce ministry, and urged the latter to seek an explanation from the health ministry under which FSSAI functions. P K Sahu, deputy chairman of Tea Board, said: “We have contested the negative tweet by FSSAI. In order to maintain a protocol, we have first sent a letter to the commerce ministry and informed it about this tweet, which has undermined both tea and coffee. A government authority cannot propagate promotional campaign/tweets that can go against the interest of an ailing agricultural sector.”

    An FSSAI spokesperson told TOI: “Consumption of any food is a personal choice. However, FSSAI encourages safe and healthy eating practices. The general public is urged to make informed choices ...”

    Speaking to TOI, M S Boje Gowda, the chairman of Bengaluru-based Coffee Board, said coffee had immense health benefits and the FSSAI campaign and tweets would be reviewed at the next board meeting.

    Sujit Patra, the secretary of Indian Tea Association (ITA), too tweeted against the campaign.“Drastically wrong proposition. It may spread the wrong impression about TEA. Already scientifically established, tea has many health benefits which no other beverage can offer!” he wrote. Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, president of small tea growers’ body Cista, feels such a campaign could affect the livelihood of millions.
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