Greenvissage explains, Why are McDonald’s and other chain outlets under scrutiny in India?

McDonald’s, the global fast-food giant, known for its burgers and nuggets, is facing regulatory scrutiny in India as the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accused the chain of using substitutes in its food items instead of real cheese, sparking concerns about misleading labelling and potential health implications. This controversy has not only put McDonald’s under the spotlight but has also raised questions about the practices of other major chain outlets operating in the country. The issue came to light when the Maharashtra FDA suspended the license of a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar after discovering the use of substitutes in burgers and nuggets instead of real cheese. Subsequent investigations revealed similar concerns about other outlets, prompting authorities to broaden their inspections to include other global fast-food brands. The heart of the matter lies in the authenticity of the ingredients used by these fast-food chains, particularly concerning cheese.

Cheese alternatives, also known as cheese analogues, are designed to mimic the taste, texture, and functionality of traditional dairy cheese. These substitutes often replace milk or dairy fat with more cost-effective vegetable oil. The Maharashtra FDA has accused McDonald’s of using cheese analogues without proper disclosure on food labels or display boards, potentially misleading consumers about the authenticity of the ingredients. The Maharashtra FDA’s inspection identified several items on McDonald’s menu allegedly containing cheese analogues, including cheesy nuggets, burgers, and desserts. The discovery prompted the FDA to issue a show-cause notice to McDonald’s, urging the chain to address the concerns raised.

Meanwhile, Westlife Foodworld Limited, the parent company of McDonald’s India has vehemently denied the allegations, stating that it uses only globally approved gold-standard suppliers and real cheese in its products, regulatory authorities remain vigilant. The company has also shared letters from their cheese supplier Dlecta Foods Private Limited mentioning that the cheese sauce used in frozen cheese nuggets was produced by them and was not analogue. Westlife has further clarified that it had informed the FDA in December 2023 about the removal of the term ‘cheese’ from several items on its menu. They had renamed Cheesy Nuggets as Veg Nuggets, McCheese Veg Burger as Cheddar Delight Veg Burger, and Blueberry Cheese Cake as Blueberry Cake, among others.

The controversy has broader implications beyond McDonald’s as it has highlighted the need for stricter regulations and greater transparency in the food industry, particularly concerning labeling and ingredient disclosure. As investigations continue and regulatory authorities intensify their inspections, the case serves as a reminder for all food establishments, especially multinational chains, to prioritize transparency, authenticity, and adherence to regulatory guidelines. In an era of heightened consumer awareness and scrutiny, maintaining trust and integrity in the food supply chain is paramount for the industry’s sustainability and credibility.


  1. Live Mint – Maharashtra McDonalds under fire for ‘cheesy deception’; renames McCheese veg burger to ‘Cheddar delight’
  2. Times of India – Maharashtra to inspect global fast-food chains after McDonald’s cheese crackdown
  3. First Post – Real cheese or substitutes? Why McDonald’s outlets are under the scanner

Greenvissage Explains, What are Nutraceuticals and why are regulators concerned about them?

Nutraceuticals, encompassing a range of products from vitamins and minerals to herbal supplements, have witnessed a surge in popularity worldwide, driven by claims of better health, anti-ageing effects, disease prevention, and overall well-being. This trend has been further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a heightened interest in dietary supplements for boosting immunity. While the global market for nutraceuticals is currently dominated by regions like the US, Japan, and Europe, India is also experiencing significant developments in this sector. The Indian nutraceutical market is poised for significant growth, with estimates projecting a surge from USD 4-5 billion in 2022 to USD 18 billion by 2025. Major players include pharmaceutical companies like Sun Pharma, and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, and FMCG companies like Dabur, HUL, and P&G. These companies offer a wide range of products, including vitamins, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, and functional foods. Recent developments indicate a growing interest among pharmaceutical companies in expanding their presence in the nutraceutical sector. For instance, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories established a wholly-owned subsidiary dedicated to nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements in September 2023. Additionally, acquisitions like JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals’ purchase of the probiotic brand Sporolac for INR 628 crore in 2022 highlight the industry’s dynamic landscape.

Despite their widespread consumption, there is limited evidence supporting the health benefits of nutraceuticals, especially in well-nourished adults. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation highlighted potential risks associated with excessive intake of dietary supplements containing antioxidants, raising concerns among healthcare activists and doctors about overconsumption without medical advice. In India, reports of mislabeling and substandard quality have raised concerns about consumer safety. In the financial year 2022-23 alone, over 40,000 cases were filed against the sale of unsafe protein powders and dietary supplements failing food safety norms. According to the latest survey conducted by Local Circles, a significant surge has been witnessed in nutraceutical consumption in India, with seven out of ten individuals confirming regular intake of various health supplements. Alarmingly, 69% of respondents admitted to using nutraceutical products without consulting a doctor or healthcare professional. The majority of consumers (68%) purchase nutraceutical products from local medical or general stores, indicating the accessibility and availability of these products in offline retail outlets. However, online platforms are also gaining popularity, with 25% of consumers opting to purchase nutraceuticals online. Despite the availability of nutraceutical products through various channels, only 31% of consumers rely solely on doctor-prescribed options. Approximately 78% of respondents expressed their desire for the government to cap the prices of essential nutraceuticals like Vitamin A and C, citing concerns about affordability and accessibility. 

In the US, nutraceuticals, termed dietary supplements, undergo post-market surveillance without pre-approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Similarly, in Canada, Health Canada oversees regulations, mandating manufacturers to acquire site licenses and monitor adverse reactions. Australia also has regulatory guidelines for complementary medicines, particularly high-risk ones requiring regulatory evaluation for health claims. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India is proposing to bring nutraceutical products under the supervision of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Currently, these products fall under the purview of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which primarily regulates their quality but lacks control over their usage and marketing. The proposed move aims to enhance quality control by establishing a committee comprising key entities such as FSSAI, CDSCO, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Ministry of Ayush, and the Department of Pharmaceuticals. This initiative could potentially bring nutraceuticals under the purview of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), making them more affordable for the general public.


  1. Local Circles – 7 in 10 consumers surveyed confirm taking some type of nutraceuticals
  2. Money Control – What are nutraceuticals and why is the government planning more regulations around them?
  3. Business Standard – 7 in 10 Indians opt for nutraceuticals; most don’t consult doctors: Survey

Greenvissage explains, Will TRAI’s new CNAP feature potentially disrupt apps like Truecaller?

In a bid to address the growing menace of spam calls and unsolicited communications, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) floated a consultation paper in November 2022, seeking feedback on the potential introduction of Calling Name Presentation (CNAP). This feature aims to provide called individuals with information about the calling party, similar to popular caller identification apps like Truecaller Bharat Caller ID and Anti-Spam. With comments invited, the proposed CNAP mechanism is expected to empower telephone subscribers to make informed decisions about incoming calls, ultimately curbing harassment by unknown or spam callers. Existing technologies typically present the number of the calling entity on the potential receiver’s handset. However, without information about the caller’s identity, subscribers may choose not to answer calls, fearing they could be unsolicited commercial communications or spam calls. This could lead to even genuine calls being unanswered. Moreover, concerns have been rising about the proliferation of robocalls, spam calls, and fraudulent communications. Community research platforms like LocalCircles have corroborated these concerns, with surveys indicating that a significant proportion of respondents receive multiple spam calls daily, despite being registered on the Do-not-Call Directory (DND).

TRAI has proposed four models for facilitating the CNAP mechanism. The first model which is the Operator-Based CNAP Database model requires each telecom service provider (TSP) to establish and operate a CNAP database of its subscribers. The caller’s TSP would extract relevant data from its database, including the caller’s name or an indicator of data availability, and transmit it to the potential receiver’s TSP for presentation to the final user. The second model involves Sharing the CNAP Database Between Operators whereby the operator of the calling entity shares its CNAP database with the receiver’s operator, allowing access to caller information. TRAI’s third model involves a Centralized Third-Party Database that would operate a centralized CNAP database, with receiver operators retrieving caller data from this centralized repository. Another option floated by TRAI includes Synchronized Databases whereby each TSP maintains a CNAP database while also retaining a copy of a synchronized central database operated by a third party, facilitating internal lookup by the receiver’s operator.

The potential introduction of Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) by telecom regulatory authorities like TRAI could pose a significant challenge to existing third-party caller identification apps like Truecaller. CNAP would be integrated directly into the native phone features provided by telecom service providers. Unlike Truecaller, which requires users to download and install a separate app, CNAP would offer caller identification seamlessly without the need for additional software. If CNAP is mandated by regulatory authorities, telecom service providers may be required to implement this feature as part of their service offerings. Being an official feature provided by telecom operators, it may offer greater accuracy and reliability in caller identification compared to crowd-sourced databases like Truecaller. The subscriber information would also be more up-to-date and accurate caller details. With growing concerns about privacy and data security, users would also prefer CNAP over third-party apps like Truecaller, which collects and stores user data for caller identification purposes. From a cost perspective too, being a native feature provided by telecom operators, CNAP would be offered to subscribers at no additional cost or as part of their existing service plans.

TRAI acknowledges potential challenges related to latency in setting up calls and the need for CNAP to be interoperable. While some models may lead to slight increases in call setup time, others could be quicker depending on the coordination required between operators. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the responsiveness of CNAP mechanisms across different network technologies, such as transitioning between faster wireless networks 4G or 5G and slower ones 2G or 3G. Experts have raised concerns about the balance between caller anonymity and caller identification, highlighting potential privacy implications.


  1. The Hindu – TRAI’s proposal to help callers identify spammers
  2. Money Control – TRAI recommends mobile network operators implement CNAP to address spam, fraudulent, robocalls
  3. Economic Times – Trai wants network operators to implement a calling name display service