What Happened In the Bournvita Controversy? Full Breakdown

Bournvita Controversy

Numerous brands get slammed due to false marketing, quality control, improper listing of ingredients, etc. Amongst these Bournvita controversy created a huge debate in India! If you are active on social media, you must have seen the clash “Food Pharmer vs Bournvita.”

Bournvita Controversy

By the way, what happened in the Bournvita controversy? Let’s break down the whole incident and analyze the key takeaways!

(A) Beginning of the Bournvita Controversy

On April 2023, a well-known food and nutrition influencer, Revant Himatsingka, also known as “Food Pharmer,” shook the internet by claiming that Cadbury Bournvita contained an unexpectedly high amount of sugar, challenging its reputation as a “healthy drink.” Himatsingka even went a step further and criticized the brand’s tagline, renaming it “Taiyari Diabetes ki” instead of “Taiyari Jeet Ki.”

This criticism meant that consuming Bournivita prepares you for diabetes instead of victory. His remarks spread like wildfire, gaining attention from both ordinary consumers and celebrities alike.

How did Bournvita defend itself while being the epic center of the controversy? You may ask. We will discuss it in detail in the upcoming sections. For now, let’s stick to the influencer’s story.

Numerous influencers slap the brands due to their labels and high sugar content. Then why did “Food Pharmer” fall prey to Bournvita? You may wonder.

See, everything was going smoothly until the video was shared by notable celebrities like Paresh Rawal (actor-politician) and Kirti Azad (former cricketer). Soon after that, the video grabbed over 12 million views!

Food Pharma Bournvita Controversy

That was enough for the Food Pharmer to enter the Bournvita’s radar…

Amidst the uproar, Himatsingka’s Twitter account was suspended. Despite this setback, the video continued to circulate, fueling the debate further.

Here came the plot twist.

All of a sudden, the influencer “Food Pharmer” announced a public apology on social media-

“I have decided to take down the video across all platforms after receiving a legal notice from one of India’s biggest law firms on 13th April 2023. I apologize to Cadbury for making the video. I did not plan or intend to infringe any trademark or defame any company nor do I have the interest or resources to participate in any court cases and I request MNCs to not take this forward legally.”

Despite his apology, a portion of his followers stood firm and vowed to boycott Bournvita.

One thing was clear from this… Big brands truly hold a huge power to shut the influencers. But as per Bournvita, it had genuine reasons to send a legal notice to the influencer. What were those? You may ask. Go through the next section, and you will find out!

(B) Bournvita Controversy Unveiled: Maker Defends Sugar Content Legality

After a video started spreading online, saying Cadbury Bournvita has too much sugar, the company hit back. They said the guy who made the video, Revant Himatsingka, twisted the truth and got things wrong. He even took down the video when he got a legal notice.

In the video, Himatsingka claimed that Bournvita has sugar, cocoa stuff, and a colorant that can cause cancer. But Bournvita said they’ve been trusted by Indian folks for 70 years. They said their drink is made carefully and follows all the rules.

Here’s how the maltmaker defended itself amid Bournvita Controversy-

InformationBournvita’s Defensive Actions
Product FormulationBournvita is scientifically formulated with sugar levels within prescribed limits, complying with Indian regulations.
Formula UpdateMondelez International, the brand owner, adjusted Bournvita’s formula to meet the 2020 recommended dietary allowance (RDA) guidelines. 
Legal ActionA viral Instagram video criticizing Bournvita’s sugar content was removed after Mondelez sent a legal notice to influencer Revant Himatsingka. 
Compliance with GuidelinesAishwarya Jain, a legal executive at Mondelez, stated that the product is transitioning to comply with the FSSAI-recommended dietary guidelines 2020.
NCPCR NoticeThe National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sent a notice to Mondelez following a complaint about misleading labeling and advertising for Bournvita.
Defense of PracticesMondelez defended its practices in a 10-page letter, arguing that Bournvita is scientifically formulated and compliant with regulations.
Packaging ClaimsThe company asserted that all claims on Bournvita packaging are permissible under the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018.
Supporting ClaimsMondelez referenced literature from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to support claims about Bournvita’s benefits.
Sugar ContentMondelez stated that Bournvita’s sugar level falls within RDA limits when prepared with 20g of powder and 200ml of milk, amounting to 7.5g of sugar content.
Additional IngredientsBournvita contains maltodextrin and liquid glucose, approved by FSSAI and considered safe for consumption.
Colour-Coding LabelMondelez explained that they did not include a color-coded label on the packaging due to the draft requirement not being officially notified by FSSAI.
Future ComplianceThe company committed to complying with proposed regulations once officially notified for implementation.
Actions taken by Bournvita to defend itself

Bournvita’s spokesperson added that experts carefully designed Bournvita to taste good and be healthy. They also said all the ingredients are checked and approved by regulators. You can even see all the info about what’s inside the pack. The company got worried because the video made people doubt Bournvita. So, they took legal action and explained the truth to calm everyone down.

(C) Experts Perspective: What do experts say on the Bournvita Controversy?

Here are the opinions given by some experts on Bournvita Controversy-

Expert's opinion on Bournvita

(C.1) Dr. Abby Philips’ Viewpoints

Dr. Abby Philips, a hepatologist and clinician-scientist at The Liver Institute, Rajagiri Hospital, Kerala, expressed concerns about Cadbury’s claims about Bournvita’s scientific backing.

He said that “Cadbury’s claims are misleading on muscle and bone growth, immunity enhancement and brain development- there are no controlled studies to show the same. Cadburys has made a statement that they have designed the product on a scientific basis, which means there as to be published studies backing their claims.”

He further added “What people do not realize is that even a so-called healthy probiotic drink like Yakult has total carbohydrates 11.5g of which 11.2g is added sugars. Even the light version is not sugar-free.”

(C.2) Nitin Kamath’s Input

Nitin Kamath, the Founder & CEO of Zerodha, participated in the debate without mentioning the name “Bournvita.” He wrote on Twitter- “An intervention that could help people make healthier food & beverage choices is to have front-of-package food labeling, like FSSAI proposed in their 2018 draft paper. Indicate fat, sugar, & salt per serving, & a warning if per serving percent is beyond a percent of the daily requirement.”

He underscored the significance of moderation in dietary choices, emphasizing that even the healthiest foods can become unhealthy when consumed excessively.

(C.3) Shrenik Gandhi and Sheth’s Perspective

Shrenik Gandhi, the co-founder and CEO of White Rivers Media, suggested that there could have been a more constructive approach to addressing the controversy instead of resorting to legal action. Sheth said that legal action against an individual creator escalates the situation unnecessarily. He highlighted the imbalance in the Bournvita Controversy scenario similar to a David vs Goliath situation where public opinion may favor the individual influencer over the corporate giant.

(D) Consequence of Bournvita Controversy: Reduced Sugar Content

Consequences of Bournvita Controversy

After months of controversy surrounding Cadbury’s Bournvita chocolate drink’s sky-high sugar levels, finally, there came a sweet change! The brand slashed its added sugar content by a whopping 14.4%. This move comes in December 2023, after health influencer Revant Himatsingka, aka Food Pharmer, shook things up with a viral video back in April 2023, calling out Bournvita’s sugar overload and sparking major backlash.

But now, the tide has turned. Himatsingka took to Instagram to share the exciting news, calling it a “Big Win!” He couldn’t contain his excitement, hailing it as a historic moment where an Instagram Reel led to a food giant cutting down its sugar by 15%. 

He captioned this event “Imagine if we all paid more attention to what’s in our food – companies would think twice before trying to pull a fast one on us!

(E) Key Takeaways from the Bournvita Controversy

takeaways from Bournvita Controversy

Here are a few lessons that you can learn from the Bournvita controversy-

  • Increased Awareness: The controversy raised awareness about the importance of scrutinizing food labels and being mindful of the ingredients in popular products like Bournvita.
  • Influencer Impact: It showcased the influence of social media influencers, like Revant Himatsingka (Food Pharmer), in sparking discussions and prompting action from major brands.
  • Customer Pressure: The public outcry and criticism directed at Cadbury’s Bournvita demonstrate the power of consumer pressure in driving changes within the food industry.
  • Brand Responsiveness: Cadbury’s response to the controversy highlights the need for brands to be proactive in addressing consumer concerns and adapting to changing preferences.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny: The controversy also brought attention to the role of regulatory bodies, such as the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), in monitoring food labeling and advertising practices.

Ultimately, the Bournvita controversy resulting in the reduction in Bournvita’s sugar content signifies the potential for positive change. It occurs when consumers like you, influencers, and brands collaborate to address health and transparency issues in the food industry!

Note: We have thoroughly explained the topic “6 Biggest Nestle Company Crimes & Surrounding Controversies.” Your mind will blow up once you get to know Nestle’s controversies briefly. So, don’t forget to check it out!

(F) Wrapping Up: Bournvita Controversy

The Bournvita controversy erupted when a health influencer exposed its high sugar content, causing a stir on social media. Cadbury responded by reducing the sugar by 14.4%. Experts raised doubts about Bournvita’s health claims and called for clearer food labeling. Some suggested a more upfront approach from the brand. 

This controversy showed us how social media can spark change, and how important it is for companies to listen to consumers and be transparent about their products. As World Health Day (7th April) is getting closer, folks are getting more cautious about the ingredients in their foods and drinks. 

It’s a reminder to always check the facts behind the labels and speak up when something doesn’t seem right!

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Published By: Supti Nandi
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