To Buy or Not to Buy

It is disheartening when we hear that companies catering to the industries as sensitive as food or cosmetics could be blatantly deceiving the customers and causing them major health concerns, only to earn more profits by the end of the day. More often than not, by using the medium of labelling and packaging to their benefit, they make their products appear as a BEST BUY. Catchy taglines, exciting ingredients and promising health benefits are often presented in trying to lure a layman into buying their product.

Often when we go about grocery shopping, we tend to rely on the labelling and the overall packaging of products in order to decide among various options to buy. Sometimes, some all new kinds of products also manage to catch our attention, thanks to their visual appeal. Terms such as ‘sugar-free’, ‘rich in anti-oxidants’, ‘organic’, ‘all-natural’ etc only offer tall-claims that these companies make in order to convey that the product could not have been any more health-friendly. Such tactics often seem persuasive enough for the customer to buy that product right-away.

While their labelling communicates quite otherwise, Olive oil, milk, honey and saffron are among a host of other commonly used products that are most tampered with. For example, the so-called Extra Virgin Olive Oil often comes diluted with regular vegetable oils. Also, branded cartons of milk sometimes also contains milk that is not very natural – they might be making it using ingredients such as urea, oil, sugar, caustic soda, salt, detergent and some skimmed milk powder. Inexpensive mixed spices, coffee powder, ketchups etc. also are not too reliable to be used, from health point of view. Such products are well packaged and the contents of their labelling suggest that the high price that we are paying for them is quite reasonable. In fact, not getting what we are paying for is not the only concern. It is evident that companies are taking advantage of stress-free controlling structure specifically in India. Also, with all the hazardous adulteration, imagine what their consumption could do to our health, in the long run!

Same goes with the cosmetic industry. It is very likely that most of the high-end companies in the ‘beauty’ segment are delivering fake promises by mentioning terms such as “organic”, "pure", "natural", “anti-ageing” etc. on their product.

As such, the cosmetic industry is not quite as regulated as we might think. Often in their labelling and advertisements that follow, they describe their product as if the product is something like ‘physician-approved’ and is hence, good to use! That, however, is not the case. Besides lacking in the right amount of organic ingredients, sometimes they have also been found to contain potentially harmful chemicals. These could lead to skin allergies, hair loss, and even skin cancer in some cases.

By throwing the industry recommended guidelines right out of the window, mislabelling and misbranding of food and cosmetic products is being taken for granted by the manufacturers. As far as safety of a product is concerned, supplementing with herbs and other natural constituents (often mentioned as QS) must be natural and really safe to use. Let us try and realize that just because the product costs a lot, and comes from a renowned manufacturer, besides being packaged beautifully, does not quite mean it is a good buy. Like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. Please be careful enough to really go through the ingredients and then take your call.

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