Farmers body seek ban on trade in chemically produced Sago

Sago (commonly known as sabudana) is again under the scanner after Kalkurichi Vellalapatti Vevasaikal Munnatra Sangam (KVVMS), a Tamil Nadu-based farmers’ body, sought a ban on trade in sago, which has alleged been produced using chemicals, across India.

The association wrote a letter to consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan, requesting him to ban it. Letters were also sent to other authorities in this regard. These included the prime minister’s office (PMO) and the ministries of commerce and industry and finance.

The farmers also filed a petition in the Madras High Court.

KVVMS’ members alleged that the sago was adulterated with rotten and decayed tapioca starch, adding that the same was being sold to the consumers with the approval of the authorities in Tamil Nadu’s food safety department, the Salem-based starch and sago manufacturer Sago Serve and traders in Tamil Nadu.

R Chandrasekaran, the body’s secretary and petitioner, said, “The manufacturers are selling sago which was manufactured three years ago. It has now expired, and if consumed, is harmful for human health, as it contains fungus and live insects.”

“The production of sago is the highest in the state of Tamil Nadu. Ninety per cent of the sago produced in the southern state is consumed in cities across Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur. Ten to 15 per cent of it is consumed in Madhya Pradesh,” he added.

The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) came in existences in 2011. Since 2012, KVVMS has been approaching it to look into the matter, wherein chemically-processed sago is being sold to the consumers.

Chandrasekaran said, “In 2015, KVVMS approached the Madras High Court with just one question: Is the processed sago fit for human consumption?”

“The court, in its decision, stated that if any trader was found selling chemically-processed sago, strict action would be taken against him,” he added.

“It urged FSSAI to issue standards and a testing methodology for sago. The apex regulator was ordered by the court to streamline the regulations for sago within two months,” Chandrasekharan said.

He added, “As directed by the Madras High Court, FSSAI issued the draft standards for tapioca or sago. A major part, dealing with testing, was missing in the draft. The method of analysis of sago and the tests that must be conducted to check the safety parameters to ensure that it is safe are also missing.”

FSSAI prescribed new norms for tapioca (sago) in the new draft it released . The draft regulations for starchy foods under tapioca sago or palm sago stated that they should be free from insect infestation, live/dead insects, dirt, extraneous  matter, added colouring matter, visible mould growth, bleaching whitening agents or optical whiteners, sweetening agents or any other adulterant.

“In February 2017, the court ordered that the new norms of the government order be adopted. However, no action has been taken in the matter to date,” stated Chandrasekharan.

An official from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Maharashtra said, “We haven’t received any complaint in the matter so far.”

A food safety officer (FSO) from Nagpur, Maharashtra, denied the receipt of any complaint relating to expired or chemically-processed sago in the region so far.

Fake Water packaging units

Recuse of water bottles

Vazhakkad (Malappuram): The inspection conducted by Panchayat authorities at a food and beverage manufacturing unit at Mundumuzhi has found that water bottles collected from railway stations are being refilled with water and sold. Authorities closed down the centre which was functioning in unhygienic conditions without following any guidelines.

Another establishment situated nearby was also fined. Rail Neer water bottles that are available in railway stations and trains only were found at the establishment. The firm collects and refills the water bottles that are abandoned in tracks and waste baskets at the railway stations, before selling them. The stickers of the old bottles are removed before selling them.  It is suspected that drivers are being influenced to collect the bottles that are being sent to the recycling units from railway stations. The establishment manufactures and packs Sarbath, mineral water, soda, soft drinks and essences. Each item is packed in different names.

 What is more astonishing is that the firm has not put any boards or signs outside the unit.  Ten women are working at the firm on a regular basis. Fungus-affected mango, lemon and other items are kept in various casks. It is suspected that these are cleaned and used again. None of the owners were present during the inspection.  The authorities will examine whether the food safety license of the firm is fake

Cargill Foods seizes stock of fake oil brands

Mumbai :  FMCG company Cargill Foods India today said it has seized finished and semi-finished stocks of a fake cooking oil brand with the help of police authorities.

The stocks were seized on the city’s outskirts as part of the company’s fight against counterfeiting of goods.

Cargill, with the help of court officials and police authorities, conducted a raid on MM Oil Enterprise in April at its premises at Dahiser Mori near here, the company said in a release here.

Finished goods and packing material of the fake oil product, being sold under ‘Genuine’ brand, were seized in the raid. The brand is a duplicate version of the company’s popular cooking oil label ‘Gemini’.

“Gemini cooking oil is a heritage brand, which comes with a sense of belonging and trust amongst our consumers. The initiative taken in February to introduce technology for combating counterfeit products has created a platform for this raid.

“With the help of court officials and local police authorities, we were able to seize the fake goods that are health hazards for our consumers, and which also tarnish the brand’s equity and reputation,” Cargill Foods India Managing Director Deoki Muchhal said.

The raid resulted in the seizure of finished stock of 9.5 tonnes and over 14 kgs of packaging materials, he added.

Cargill has businesses in refined oils, food ingredients, grain and oil seeds, cotton, animal feed and trade structured finance. It markets leading consumer brands of edible oils like Nature Fresh, Gemini, Sweekar, Leonardo Olive Oil, Rath and Sunflower brand of hydrogenated fats in India.

The company also markets Nature Fresh brand of packaged wheat flour. 

Patanjali defends amla juice, says it’s a medicinal product

Patanjali says its amla juice does not fall under FSSAI standards but those of the AYUSH ministry, after a Kolkata lab raised quality issues over its consumption
New Delhi: Yoga-guru-turned-businessman Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd on Monday said its amla juice is a medicinal product and not food, like other juices sold in the market.
Consequently, its amla juice does not fall under the purview of the standards set by the country’s food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). “It comes under the purview of the Ministry of AYUSH. The test conducted by the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata was done following the standards set by FSSAI. Our amla juice is a medicinal product and is safe for consumption,” said a spokesperson at Patanjali Ayurved.
The Patanjali spokesperson was reacting to a report by The Economic Times saying that the canteen stores department (CSD), the retailing entity for the country’s armed forces, has suspended sales of Patanjali amla juices at all its 3,901 outlets across the country after the laboratory in Kolkata found the product unsafe for consumption.
“We have also written to the CSD explaining this. Patanjali amla juice will be back to CSD shelves soon,” added the spokesperson.
A CSD spokesperson did not respond to e-mailed queries till press time.
FSSAI chief executive officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal did not respond to calls seeking comments.
In an interview to Mint on 13 April 2016, Agarwal had said that a lot of Patanjali products come under the Ministry of AYUSH and not FSSAI. He was responding to a question regarding the company selling products without FSSAI approval.
In the last one week, Patanjali has been in news for the wrong reasons. Last week, Indian Express reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Haryana had labelled Patanjali ghee (clarified butter) “substandard and unsafe” based on tests that the department had conducted in October 2016 at the state food laboratory of FDA, Haryana.
“Contents in cow ghee are different from the ghee other companies sell. Even the standards set by FSSAI are based on available products and not cow ghee. We are the first company to bring cow ghee in commercial market. There is no standard for cow ghee. So it does not make sense,” said the Patanjali spokesperson, referring to the controversy regarding its ghee brand.
Ghee and amla juice are among the most popular products sold by Patanjali. In April 2016, Ramdev had, in a press conference, said that ghee contributed to around 20% of Patanjali’s revenue.
In the year to 31 March 2016, Patanjali had claimed a revenue of Rs5,000 crore and said that it would cross Rs10,000 crore by 31 March 2017.
The company is yet to file financial details to the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
Will these controversies impact Patanjali’s business, or the brand? Analysts have different views.
Rajat Wahi, partner and head of consumer markets at consulting firm KPMG in India, said any company that expands business too fast (like Patanjali has been doing), with almost a product every week, is likely to find it difficult to maintain quality. “If it continues like this, and more questions are raised over the next few weeks, consumers, no matter how loyal they are, will start rethinking. And that would eventually impact the brand and the business,” he said.
Abneesh Roy, an analyst with Edelweiss Securities Ltd, however, said that the lab that has issues with amla juice is the same lab that found Maggi (instant noodle by Nestle India Ltd) unsafe. “But all other labs found the product safe. The product (amla juice) has to be tested by independent private laboratories. Plus, it all depends on how the issue pans out and what the regulators (like FSSAI) do,” he added.
On the other hand, said Roy, contribution of amla juice is very small to Patanjali’s coffers and the contribution of CSD will be even smaller. “It’s unlikely that this issue will impact the company’s business or the brand,” added Roy.

Canteen Stores Dept suspends sale of Patanjali Amla Juice

Beat the summer heat

‘Manufacturers agree to fortify edible oil with Vitamin A & D’

Image result for cooking oil brands

All major edible manufacturers and processors have agreed to fortify cooking with Vitamin A & D within the next three months, the food regulator FSSAI said .

Fortification means deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in food to improve its quality.
This decision is the outcome of a meeting convened by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of (FSSAI) recently here. Over 130 persons, including the representatives of the edible industry and its associations, and academia attended this meeting among others.

The FSSAI is promoting food fortification in a big way and had last year issued standards for fortification of salt with iodine and iron, of vegetable and milk with Vitamin A and D, wheat flour and rice with iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin A and some other micronutrients.

“All major edible manufacturing and processing sector decides to fortify the edible with vitamin A and D within the next three months,” FSSAI said in a statement.

“During the deliberations industry partners, including Patanjali, resolved to adopt fortification of all their edible variants as an industry norm and have agreed to initiate fortification within 8-12 weeks,” it added.

As per the National Institute of Nutrition, there is a high prevalence of vitamin A and D deficiencies amongst Indian population. Almost 50-90 per cent of the Indian population, across all socio-economic groups, suffers from vitamin A and D deficiencies.

FSSAI said the fortification of edible oils with vitamin A and D, offers the most feasible and cost-effective intervention, as has a fairly high consumption of edible oils, ranging from 12-18 kg per annum per person.