Posted by : Varun Doshi
On : 12 September 2014
Comments : 6
Views : 2520
The Indian cosmetics industry is furious about a government diktat that shampoos, toothpastes, soaps and other items need to carry a red or brown dot indicating whether the product contains ingredients that are of animal origin, calling it unfair and accusing the Department of Consumer Affairs of issuing the notification without giving companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Colgate Palmolive a chance to give their views.
The Indian Beauty and Hygiene Association (IBHA) has petitioned the Bombay High Court, contending that the rule is against the principles of natural justice and that the Supreme Court had dealt with the matter previously. It also said that the issue comes under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, rather than the metrology department, which has been ensuring that the rule is observed through raids on warehouses.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought responses from the metrology department and the Union government within two weeks to the plea filed by IBHA against the notification. Hindustan Unilever, part of IBHA, is a copetitioner as well.
The division bench comprising justices VM Kanade and PD Kode also directed the metrology authorities not to take coercive action against the companies and posted the matter for hearing on September 23. Metrology refers to weights and measures.
"The notification has been issued without seeking comments from the industry, which is against the pre-legislative consultation policy of the government," a Hindustan Unilever spokesperson said. "It is also pertinent to clarify that this is not a subject matter of the legal metrology department."
According to the June 2014 notification issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs under the Legal Metrology Act, "Every package containing soap, shampoos, toothpastes and other cosmetics and toiletries shall bear at the top of its principal display panel a red or, as the case may be, brown dot for products of nonvegetarian origin and a green dot for products of vegetarian origin."
Products such as lipsticks and lip balms are exempt because they weigh less than 10 grams. The department had directed companies to comply with the changes from July 1.
"Soon after the development, officials from the department conducted a series of raids on the warehouses of many consumer companies and asked them to stop distributing the products," said a senior executive who didn't want to be identified. "This current situation has put many companies in trouble."
Companies are concerned that consumers may be put off by red or brown dots, especially since many Indians profess themselves to be vegetarians, although technological advances mean that such ingredients are no longer used in many instances, according to analysts. Still, green-dot methods of manufacture could involve costlier inputs and thus higher retail prices or narrower margins.
Source: Economic times