No health drinks, says Govt: What about 'traditional' fitness drinks? Doctor explains

The doctor clarifies that there is no drink - traditional or modern - that can be classified as a 'health drink.' Photo: iStock/katleho Seisa

Growing up, many of us have consumed copious glasses of milk with 'Bournvita' for that 'extra energy' aspiring to be like the all-rounder kids in their ads. Children love the chocolatey taste and aroma. But recently, the government asked all the e-commerce companies to remove drinks and beverages, including Bournvita, from the health drinks category. The reason was that 'health drink' has not been defined under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.

The ruling confused many parents and other consumers, who took to social media platforms to wonder if supplements like Bournvita are not health drinks, what are they? Also, are the so-called traditional health drinks, used often for children's weight gain and general well-being, healthy enough for kids? Dr Joseph A Pattani, paediatrics and neonatology specialist in Mitera Hospital, explains: 

If not a health drink, what's Bournvita?
Products like Bournvita can be termed just drinks, says the doctor. "Such drinks often have artificial sweeteners and high sugar content, which are not good for regular consumption," he explains. "Drinking them once in a while might be okay, but consumers should understand that you derive no nutritional benefit from them."

The doctor also clarifies that no drink - traditional or otherwise - can be classified as a 'health drink.' "It's better to avoid all kinds of tinned juices or foods from children's meals. Rather than giving them fruit juices, give them fruits, as such. The only good drink is water!" he explains.

What about 'traditional drinks?'
Some parents mix ragi or banana powders in milk and serve them to children for weight gain or nutritional reasons. However, Dr Pattani says they cannot be 'health drinks' but complementary feeds for kids. "A 10-year-old child, for instance, should have a properly balanced diet rather than such powders for development," he says.

Products like Bournvita can be termed just drinks, says the doctor. Representative image/File Photo

What did Govt order say?
"(The) National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory body constituted under section (3) of the Commission of Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act 2005 after its inquiry under Section 14 of CRPC Act 2005 concluded that there is no 'health drink' defined under FSS Act 2006, rules and regulations submitted by FSSAI and Mondelez India Food Pvt Ltd,” the Commerce and Industry Ministry said in an advisory to all e-commerce companies.

The order, dated April 10, 2024, asked all e-commerce companies/portals to remove drinks and beverages, including Bournvita, from the category of health drinks from their platforms/sites. On April 2, food safety standards regulator FSSAI directed all e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) to ensure appropriate categorisation of food products being sold on their websites.

Ayurvedic food
It's better to give children fruits rather than fruit juices, says the doctor. Photo: IANS

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has noted that instances of food products licensed under 'Proprietary Food' with the nearest category Dairy-Based Beverage Mix or Cereal-Based Beverage Mix or Malt-Based Beverage being sold on e-commerce websites under the category Health Drink, Energy Drink, etc, it added. 
(With PTI inputs)

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