Health Minister Urges Celebrities Not to Endorse Soft Drinks
Kolkata : Stoking afresh the debate on celebrity endorsements, Union
Health minister Ambumani Ramadoss has urged Bollywood superstars and
sportspersons to stop promoting carbonated beverages which have an
"adverse impact on the health of society".
The appeal came at a meet here on Friday when the Minister was inaugurated
the golden jubilee celebrations of the Central Food Laboratory and
announced a slew of measures to tighten food safety protocols in the
Ramadoss, who had earlier expressed strong views on smoking on screen,
said it was time the film and sports fraternity woke up to the fact
that by giving the stamp of approval to unhealthy products, they were
propagating unsafe consumption habits among the people.
"Sportspersons and Bollywood stars are icons. They should not take
advertisement assignments for soft drink companies like Coke and Pepsi
since these drinks are detrimental to the health of children," he
Naming celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Aamir Khan,
Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai, he said they must desist from promoting
"Coke and Pepsi" if they wanted to do some good for society.
The Minister said obesity, diabetes and several other diseases were
on the rise in India because of the consumption of these products
and children as young as 10 to 12 years were suffering from caridac
ailments after eating junk food.
A committee, he said, was probing the pesticide content in soft drinks.
"But even otherwise, they are equally harmful," he added.
On whether the Centre could ban such endorsements in the electronic
and print media, he said nothing of that sort was being planned. "I
am just making a request to these stars."
In 2003, the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environemnt had
triggered a nationwide debate with a startling report that 12 very
popular soft drink brands had high pesticide content.
This had led to a near dissapearance of the beverages from the market
as a panicked nation said no to the drinks.
However, the issue died down soon and soft drink sales zoomed back
in the subsequent summers as cola companies gave disclaimers.
Ramadoss's views on the beverages is expected to rekindle the debate.
The country was also bracing up for an Integrated Food Safety and
Standardisation Law replacing the existing Prevention of Food Adulteration
Act (PFA) to ensure greater safety of food items, the Minister said.
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