Patanjali quarrel: Ayurved company receives legal notice for using ‘cuttlefish bones’ in its Divya Dant Manjan; here’s what the experts say

Patanjali row: Patanjali Ayurved, an Indian multinational holding company, has received a legal notice over allegations of using a non-vegetarian ingredient called ‘Samudra Phen’ (cuttlefish) in its dental product, Divya Dant Manjan. Despite this ingredient, the product has been labeled vegetarian and green.

Earlier this week, attorney Sasha Jain took to Twitter and expressed concern over Patanjali’s alleged use of the non-vegetarian ingredient.

He issued a legal notice to Patanjali, seeking clarification on the deceptive use of samudra phen (cuttlefish) in his product Divya Dant Manjan, labeling it as green. This violates consumer rights and is deeply offensive to our community and other vegetarian communities,” he wrote.

In a series of tweets, Jain also highlighted the ingredient list in Patanjali’s Divya Dant Manjan and pointed out that it also includes ‘Samundra Fen’ (Medicinal cuttlefish), commonly known as common cuttlefish.

Interestingly, the product marked “Samudra Fen” contains calcium carbonate, phosphate, sulfate and silica, which is used as a scraping agent in tooth care products.

The lawyer also shared a copy of the legal notice he issued to Patanjali. He asks the company to provide clarifications regarding the alleged use of non-vegetarian substances within 15 days of receiving the communication.

Patanjali’s Divya Dant Manjan

On its website, the Indian conglomerate claimed that Divya Dant Manjan is the most potent medicinal product for gums and teeth.

“By using this toothpaste, the gums become strong. As a result dental problems like Pieria (flow of blood and pus from the gums) would be resolved and the tiny particles of food that remained between the gums would be expelled. The bad smell from the mouth would cease. The salivary glands are functioning properly and the teeth would be healthy and shining well,” the company said.

Patanjali further claims that Divya Dant Manjan, which costs Rs. 80 can solve dental problems such as pieria (flow of blood and pus from the gums).

The product includes the following ingredients:

Babool (Acacia Arabica) Bk. 17.70G,
Neem (Azadiracata Indica) Bk. 4.40G,
Tumbaru (Zanthoxylum Alatum) p. 4.4g,
Pudina (Mentha Spicata) Lf. 4.40g,
Majufal (Quercus Infectoria) Gi. 4.40g,
Saindha Namak (Sodii Chloridum) 13.20 G,
Pippali Chhoti (Piper Longum) p. 4.40G,
Kala Namak (Sodii Chloridum) 4.40 g,
Akarkara (Anacyclus Pyrethrum) Rt. 4.40 g,
Loung (Syzygium Aromaticum) Fi. Bd. 4.40 g,
Kali Mirch (Piper Nigrum) p. 1.75g,
Haldi (Curcuma Longa) Rz. 4.40g,
Samudra Fen (cuttlefish officinalis) 4.40 g,
Sphatica Bhasma (potash alum) 22.0 g,
Kapoor (Cinnamomum Camphora) Est 0.90 G,
Peppermint (Mentha Piperata) Est. 0,45 g

According to the company’s 2020-21 annual report, during the financial year 2020-21 the company had a revenue of Rs. 9783.81 crore and an after-tax profit (PAT) of Rs. 484.56 crore as compared to the profit of Rs. 424.72 crore in previous financial year. The company has not yet released its 2022-23 report.

In November last year, the Ayurvedic and Unani services authorities of Uttarakhand issued an order to Patanjali’s Divya Pharmacy and ordered it to suspend production of five medicines. However, the order was later rescinded.

The action was taken by Dr KV Babu, an ophthalmologist based in Kerala, who lodged a complaint and expressed concern over an advertisement by the company which claimed that their eye drops were effective in treating conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems.

According to Dr. Babu, such ads pose a risk to human life, as untreated eye problems can potentially lead to blindness.

‘this is misleading’

Ashim Sanyal, COO, told Consumer Voice Financial Express. com that using non-vegetarian ingredients and labeling them as vegetarian with a green dot is a violation of the law.

“Toothpaste is digestible and therefore vegetarians cannot use it. The reason it is mentioned in the ingredients list does not hold as the front of the red dot label of the packaging needs to be affixed. It is up to the brand to provide clear information. This is misleading,” Sanyal said.

Dr. Rennie Joyy, a former banker, corporate lawyer pointed out that despite being promoted as a brand that emphasizes natural and Ayurvedic products, Patanjali has also previously been embroiled in controversies regarding mislabeling and misleading claims such as atta noodles issues in 2015.

“Now once again this new cuttlefish problem underlines the importance of strict regulation and careful monitoring to avoid misrepresentations in the market. The company should respond to the legal notice and be open to necessary laboratory tests of its toothpaste to verify its contents. The Indian Consumer Act acts as a shield against misrepresentation in the market. Specifically, when a product is falsely claimed to be vegetarian, it violates consumer trust. Recently, a worrying trend has emerged where hidden non-vegetarian ingredients are found in products labeled vegetarian,” said Dr. Joyy Financial Express. com.

He also pointed out that this deceptive practice not only violates the rights of vegetarian consumers but also undermines their religious, cultural and personal beliefs.

“The law, with its provisions, aims to hold accountable those who have misled consumers,” he added.

According to Dr. Arjav Beswal, owner of MDS at Ivory Dental’s specialties and other dental clinics, said Financial Express. com that although cuttlefish has been used in toothpastes before, it is highly unethical for a company like Patanjali to use it, as most consumers use their product based on trust and belief that only vegetarian and Ayurvedic ingredients are used.

“This is a clear violation of consumer rights and labeling rules, add to this the deception and harm it has caused to so many consumers who throughout this have used their product solely for the ‘humane’ nature. ‘environment’ of their product, as they’ve marketed it all the time,” Dr. Beswal said.

Financial Express. com contacted Patanjali via email and WhatsApp but received no response. The story will be updated if and when a response is received.

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