FBOs shouldn’t run for redressal of grievances

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McDonald’s follows different food safety and supply standards for India, alleges Vikram Bakshi

 McDonald’s estranged partner Vikram Bakshi on Thursday hit out at the fast food major, saying it follows “different standards” for India compared to other countries and continuously ignored the food quality concerns raised by him for the past four years.

Bakshi’s response came after McDonald’s India earlier alleged lapses in food quality and safety level by “all facets of the supply chain”.
“It appears that McDonald’s have global standards for food safety and supplies, and they have a very different set of standards for countries like ours which is a clear double standard,” Bakshi alleged.

Countering Bakshi, McDonald’s India said: “Using unapproved vendors for the supply chain is creating serious compliance risks to McDonald’s standards for food quality and safety.”

The battle between McDonald’s India and Bakshi-led Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd (CPRL) intensified after the latters logistics partner Radhakrishna Foodland abruptly stopped supplies, which led to closure of about 84 outlets, mostly in east India and some in north on Monday.

Sixteen of the 84 outlets resumed operations today after Bakshi roped in a new logistics vendor ColdEX.

Pic Courtesy: PTI

Pic Courtesy: PTI

Meanwhile, the fast food giant has alleged that the new vendor is not approved by it.

Bakshi said issues that concern public health of this country have been blatantly ignored by the American company with no responses, visits or actions on food safety issues that were red flagged for immediate attention.

“It is indeed ironic that the conscience of McDonald’s has suddenly awakened to quality and food safety in India, when for the past four years, CPRL has been bringing to their attention, including their CEO, Steve Easterbrook, issues of the same, without extracting a single response or visit from them,” he said in a statement.

Radhakrishna Foodland had discontinued its supply services alleging reduction in volume and non-payment of certain dues, among others. McDonald’s India further said that globally, it works closely with trusted network of suppliers to uphold stringent practices and efforts over the years have been successful in consistently reducing customer complaints.

Stating that the termination of supplies has affected about 100 restaurants, Bakshi said this is a pre-planned step in collusion with McDonald’s and their wholly owned subsidiary in India McDonald’s India Pvt Ltd.

He further said the termination is in contravention of the NCLT judgement that ordered for smooth functioning of the CPRL restaurants without any hindrance.

After Bakshi was ousted as the MD of CPRL in 2013, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) reinstated him to his position and also refrained McDonald’s from interfering in the functioning of CPRL besides appointing an administrator to oversee the smooth functioning of CPRL.

The battle which gained momentum after Bakhshi’s ouster turned ugly when McDonald’s India terminated the franchise agreement with in August. Both the parties are now fighting out their case in various legal forums including NCLT, NCLAT and Delhi high court.

Meanwhile, Bakshi continues to operate the outlets.

‘Maggi meets latest food safety norms’

( File)

FMCG major Nestle India said on Monday that Maggi complied with the latest guidelines of food safety regulator FSSAI and it does not add any ash to its popular brand of noodles.

The district administration of Shahjahanpur, U.P., had slapped a fine on Nestle India and its distributors last week after Maggi allegedly failed to pass a lab test which found ash content to be above the permissible limit for human consumption.

“Nestle wishes to categorically state that we do not add ash in any form whatsoever during the manufacturing process of Maggi noodles,” Nestle India CMD Suresh Narayanan told reporters here

Nestle is all about Food safety and Food security – Paul Bulcke

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Paul Bulcke, Global Chairman of Nestle spoke about the latest happenings in his company and sector. He was speaking from the side-lines of World Food India 2017 currently underway in New Delhi.

We have invested in India quite heavily already in the past. Food safety and food security are two very important issues worldwide but specially for India. That is what my company is all about. We are very proud to be part of India, he said.

Maggi issue was a big blip in India and Nestle’s relationship but we have overcome that by working together and putting things on the table and having the same goal of food safety first, he added.

Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview. 

Q: How is Nestle looking at the PM’s outreach?

A: We are here already more than 100 years, we have invested quite heavily already in the past. Food safety and food security are two very important issues worldwide but especially for India. That is what my company is all about. So we are so proud to be part of this.

Q: You had mentioned in your speech about the concerns with food safety, you said that chapter was close. As far as Maggi – and because we heard you issuing a statement soon after that – that was a bit of a blip. Is that now over, are you bullish about India?

A: Yes, look, relationships always have these blips maybe and that was a big one. But it was linked to trust and what I meant by overcoming — trust is there again and trust is the most important ingredient of engaging with a country.

Q: How did you overcome that?

A: By working together and putting the things on the table and having the same goal of food safety first and we share that.

Q: As you make the plans for India going forward, five-seven years, what are the key regulatory bottlenecks that your team in India is telling you that India needs to overcome if India were to realise the potential that the PM was talking about?

A: It is a huge country, 1.3 billion people, many states, I think harmonising is one of these challenges that we want to be part of.

Q: How important is India to Nestle? How much time does Nestle India take in your monthly meetings?

A: I don’t take timelines like these. What I want to make sure is that we have the right people managing our activities here in the country and that is what we have.

Q: But the message you are giving me is that you are gung-ho, you are bullish about India going forward?

A: I am here.

World Food India attracts Rs.68000 Cr investments

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with (from left) Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan at the World Food India 2017 inaugural session in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with (from left) Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan at the World Food India 2017 inaugural session in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: PTI
World Food India, spread across India Gate and Vigyan Bhawan, turning Lutyens’ Delhi into a traffic nightmare, started Friday morning with Prime Minister inviting investors to tap the “unlimited opportunities’’ in India’s  Soon after, top executives of global food and retail majors from to Coca-Cola and Amazon to Metro, along with domestic biggies such as and Patanjali, lined up to ink investment MoUs, totalling Rs 68,000 crore over multiple years.  


The MoUs, 13 of them, formalised the investments promised earlier by these companies. Others such as Nestle offered to help the government in food safety, while making a reference to the Maggi ban debacle in India two years ago.    
           
In investments, led the pack with a commitment worth Rs 13,340 crore, followed by rival Coca-Cola (Rs 11,000 crore). had earlier announced its plan to invest Rs 35,000 crore in India and the latest commitment is part of the total pie. Coca-Cola had in July announced an investment of Rs 11,000 crore, along with its partners, to boost its local agri ecosystem. Friday’s commitment is a reiteration of the same.


The Rs 10,000-crore investment that CEO Sanjiv Puri committed on Friday will be allocated towards setting up 20 integrated consumer goods manufacturing & logistics facilities in 12 states across India.


FMCG major too has promised to invest Rs 10,000 crore investment in its upcoming food parks, managing director Acharya Bal Krishna said.


 The UAE-based Sharaf Group signed an MoU for its committed Rs 5,000-crore investment to augment farm produce, collection, processing and export.


Multinational retail firms Amazon and Metro were next on the list with commitments worth Rs 3,450 crore and Rs 1,690 crore in retail and wholesale trade, respectively. Companies like Janani Foods, Cargill, Britannia, Hains Celestial, CP Wholesale and RP Sanjeev Goenka Group too have expressed interest to invest more than Rs 1,000 crore each.


Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who spearheaded the initiative of World Food India, on the lines of international events, said, “These investments will help us realise the goal of doubling farmers’ income as well as generating massive employment in the food processing sector.”


Earlier in the day, the PM emphasised the need for private investments in the area to transform India into a global food-processing hub. “Come, invest in India, the place with unlimited opportunities to deliver food — from farm to the fork”. He drew multinationals’ attention to the country’s “delightful cuisine’’. Christopher Columbus was attracted to Indian spices and reached America in search of those, the PM said. ‘’Food processing is a way of life in India,’’ the PM added while referring to papads, chatnis, and murabbas as exciting creations of India. 


Among other food majors, Nestle’s global chairman Paul Bulcke said, “We had some challenging times not so long ago, when our heritage of food safety was questioned. But we have overcome these. No individual entity has answers to all food-related problems but we have to overcome them together. Food safety is non-negotiable for us and we can definitely offer our expertise.”


Amanda Sourry, president of foods, Unilever, said, “With a population of 1.3 billion, a burgeoning middle class, a youth segment larger than the entire population of the United States  and the increasing rate of urbanisation, the opportunity of providing nutritious, safe and tasty food to more than one billion people must be addressed.”


The three-day event is targeting to turn the country into a hub of processed food. According to estimates from ministry of food processing industries, demand for food will increase by 50 per cent and the world population will swell by a fifth by 2040.

graph
 

9 reasons why Railway food is so terrible and 3 ways to fix it

9 Reasons why Railway Food is so Terrible and 3 Ways to Fix it

 
Very few of us “normal” citizens of India have eaten there, but reports from the Delhi circle, especially those from the exalted media lot with access, indicate that the food at the Parliament Canteen is supposed to be excellent, more so as the catering is done by the Indian Railways. This is one end of the spectrum.
Most of us “normal” citizens of India who travel by the same Indian Railways, however, tend to find the Railway food a rather sad burden that has to be tolerated, especially on trains where it is included in the fare. (Only in a few specific trains is the food is reasonable and sometimes good. The examples are Mandovi Express (Mumbai – Madgaon), Deccan Queen (Mumbai – Pune) and Brindavan Express (Chennai – Bengaluru). This is the other end.)
In the middle, somewhere lies the reality of railways food, leaning somewhere between the rancid and the tolerable.
Food poisoning, much in the news lately because of the recent Tejas Express episode, may well be rare. But un-hygienically prepared and served food on trains is the rule rather than the exception, even more so because the lowest bid sub-contractor system ensures that the people actually at the last point of delivery are more often than not untrained, underpaid and ill-motivated.
A similar situation exists on platforms and stations, where again the fairly obsolete processes involved in tendering for food outlets, and the huge corruption that the vendors, stall-operators and restaurants face from the vast variety of authorities involved, now also in the name of security, mean that the eventual loser is the customer. 
So what brought about this situation, given that till a few decades ago, railway food was considered safe, freshly cooked, and reasonably priced too?
1) Plain and simple, corruption top to bottom gnawed away at every point in the supply chain, which then like a termite infested pillar, simply collapsed under its own weight. From palming off contracts to favourites and disabling the Indian Railway’s own catering arm, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC), to meddling with local menus in the name of standardisation, everything went under.
2) Hygiene and sanitation in pantry cars went spiralling downwards, again, for multiple reasons. Lack of adherence by Indian Railways to basic guidelines from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the major flaw in the system here. They simply do not recognise any form of regulatory compliance over their catering services, on board or on platforms and anywhere on Indian Railways property.
3) A total mess was made of red and green dot regulations, resulting in complete mix-up of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, which in turn caused huge problems because refrigeration on- board especially long-distance trains was minimal if at all. A simple solution that food be totally vegetarian, as implemented in trains in some parts of the country, was not implemented on an all-India basis.
4) Take egg dishes, for example. On some routes, the Indian Railways have moved towards a simple solution, boiled egg in shell. On other routes, however, they still insist on serving cooked egg dishes at hugely enhanced rates, and cooked in conditions, which are best left undescribed, with ample room for a fiddle in quantities.
5) In the name of standardisation of menus on the Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto class trains, where food is part of the ticket price, we get a menu, which is no longer representative of anything other than a lack of imagination and bits and pieces of junk food. In addition, some elements, like single-serve corn flakes served with open milk, are invitations to disaster considering the truth about milk in our hinterlands.
6) With tighter seating and more berths inside railway coaches, the sheer number of passengers who need to be served especially when reservation against cancellation (RAC) is also taken into consideration, easily rises to 120% of the booked capacity of a train. The storage, serving and then removal of food trays in such situations becomes a disaster; toilets have been known to be used for this.
7) The preference and insistence on the part of Indian Railways to continue to serve watery curries, which spill all over the place is another reason for catering mishaps. A drastic change towards dry options, or thicker gravy items if they must be served, is essential. Daals, lentils, that essential component of Indian food, are never as watery as served on our trains. Naturally, it will flow, all over the place and mess things up even more.
8) If you are unfortunate enough to have the saloon coach of a free-riding ‘Higher Officer’ or any other elected or selected representative hooked on to your train, then the overall food quality for the rest of the paying passengers will come crashing down. This is because the budget for the meals and snacks and more served to the free loaders and their entourages come from your share of the raw materials and prepared food.
9) As is often said, ‘in the good old days’, unconsumed food on the Indian Railways (if still fit for consumption) was despatched post-haste to orphanages or other charity institutions. This practice, to the best of my knowledge, was discontinued after the Emergency and has never been restored. Now the unconsumed food goes towards either making the “janata thaali box” or is sold further.
Over the last few decades, food on the roads in India, especially South and West India, has certainly improved. Quality at reasonable prices, mostly basic vegetarian, clean toilets, secure parking, polite and trained staff, all this and more, is more the rule than the exception. Add to that the vast number of franchised fast food restaurants, stand-alone as well as chains, and you have a recipe for safe victuals as an integral part of travel. 
By contrast, the Indian Railways, despite a huge move towards modernisation and avowed safety in kitchens after a few spectacular fire incidents in the last few years, has not really kept up with being customer centric in its approach. Being a monopoly, the “take it or leave it” attitude with food on our trains goes right up to the top and then comes crashing back again to the customer facing staff.
So what are possible solution?
1) Encourage passengers to bring their own food especially quick heat and eat. Frankly, if the Indian Railways do it like in Chinese trains, where they provide access to a hot water boiler for tea, coffee and noodles, a large percentage of the travelling public will be satisfied.
2) Multiple vendors should be encouraged to provide food on trains, either by app-based order system to supply food at scheduled halts or by small independent vendors selling officially, what they can carry on their persons – like the so-called “illegal” vendors do anyways. This should be purely quality of food and local delicacies based, and not as a profit unit for the Indian Railways.
3) A typical pantry car is deadweight being towed overnight. The same kitchen or pantry car can be a static base kitchen at a railway station, and be used for supplying food for trains passing through with scheduled stops there – and also to supply healthy food for people waiting on platforms.
Most of all, food will improve if Indian Railways gets back into the business of safe transportation from A to B, instead of trying to be everything for everybody, and then making additional money out of it too.
Done properly, local and regional food can do wonders on railway trains, as it used to. Sadly, we have come to a point now where, for example, even the vadas at Karjat and Lonavala are no longer a shade of what they used to be.

Pepsico India to counter malicious campaign on popular snack food

Pepsico India Holdings Private Ltd is taking measures to assure consumers about the safety of Kurkure, in the wake of malicious rumours that the popular snack food contains plastic, said a senior company official.
From one variant in 1999, Kurkure has 40 variants and is also exported to several countries.
“I don’t know on what grounds the rumour is spread that Kurkure contains plastic. Normally big brands attract malicious rumours,” Marketing Director – Indian Snacks, Vani Gupta, told IANS on Saturday.
“We don’t see such malicious campaign in other parts of India. Only in Tamil Nadu we see such malicious campaigns,” Gupta said.
Some months back the associations of traders in Tamil Nadu had announced a ban on selling Pepsi and Coca Cola brands.
Gupta said the company is taking countermeasures in assuring the safety of Kurkure to mothers.
According to her, it is better to assure the consumers about the safety rather than taking legal recourse against the rumour mongers.
One of the steps is redesigning of the package with the words ‘Made with Dal, Corn and Rice’ printed on it.
“In case of chips we know what it is made of. But it is not so with Kurkure. Hence we decided to adopt this strategy,” Gupta said.
On Saturday, Pepsico Holdings held an event here where bloggers – mostly young women – were told about Kurkure and the production process.
With the assistance of an award winning chef, the participants also whipped up some dishes made with several variants of Kurkure.
Gupta said: “Any food that is taken in moderate quantity is good. The problem crops up when one overdoes something.”
Queried about the usage of palmolein oil in the making of the product instead of other oils like rice bran oil, Gupta said: “The oil suits well with the product. The usage of palmolein oil is not driven by costs.”
“Many of our competitors play with the ingredient quantities when the prices fluctuate,” she added.
“Even at home it is advisable to change the oil brands once in two months so as to derive the benefits offered by them. In the case of Kurkure the oil quantity used may not be much. Only children above the age of five should be given salty snacks. All food stuffs should be consumed in moderate quantities,” T. Shanthi Kaavery, a consulting dietician, told IANS.
From one variant in 1999, Kurkure has 40 variants and is also exported to several countries.
“Kurkure is made in our plants in Canada and Bangladesh. The product is exported to Gulf countries.”
She said the organised Indian snack food market is around Rs 17,000 crore and is logging double digit growth.
Gupta said the company offers various regional flavours under Kurkure brand.