Indian consumer watchdog fines Britannia for underweight biscuits

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Indian bakery giant Britannia has been ordered to pay a fine for producing underweight packets of biscuits. Pic: ©GettyImages/mikkelwilliam
Indian bakery giant Britannia has been ordered to pay a fine for producing underweight packets of biscuits. Pic: ©GettyImages/mikkelwilliam
The Ahmedabad branch of India’s Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has fined Indian bakery giant Brittania Industries for selling underweight packets of biscuits.

The consumer forum fined the Bangalore-headquartered biscuit producer Rs. 31,000 (almost $500) after finding it had sold packets of biscuits below the weight printed on the label.

The company – a leading food producer in India with a 100-year legacy – was ordered to pay a Rs. 25,000 ($385) fine to the Consumer Welfare Fund and Rs. 6,000 ($93) to the complainant Laljibhai Patel.

According to documents, Patel approached the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum after Britannia allegedly failed to address his concerns regarding packets of biscuits weighing less than what was printed on them.

The Naranpura resident picked up the weight discrepancy after buying six 122.5 g packets of Marie Gold biscuits in July 2012.

His suspicions were confirmed by an ISO 9001 laboratory in Sola, which found four packets weighed less than the printed value by almost 7-8%.

Despite Patel’s complaint to the company, he contended the packets were neither replaced nor was he refunded.

Packed to international standards

During the proceedings, Britannia said its biscuits are manufactured and packaged by automated machines and the product is made as per provisions of Rule 22 of Legal Metrology (packaged commodity) Rules, 2011. Variation in weight is possible due to weather and transportation, it said.

However, Patel contended the weight of the four packets came in at 104 g, 112 g, 114 g and 117 g, three of which are below the court-ruled 117 g permissible error for weight variance.

The court obtained second report from the Sola lab in April 2017, and found little difference from the first report.

The court said the difference in actual and printed weights on the packets was not negligible and was more than the maximum permissible error. It ruled this amounted to “unfair trade practise” and malpractice with consumers.

BakeryandSnacks is awaiting comment from Britannia regarding the outcome.

Britannia Industries is a leading food producer in India with annual revenues in excess of Rs. 9,000 Cr ($1.38bn), producing biscuits, bread, cakes, rusks and dairy related products.

Over a million loaves of Britannia Bread are sold daily across more than 100 cities and towns in India.

The company has a footprint in over 60 countries around the world, including the Middle East, North America, Europe, Africa and South East Asia.

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