Mah govt and FDA told to explain seizure of Parle co's product



Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra Government and Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to submit affidavits in reply to a petition filed by Messrs Parle Biscuits Pvt Ltd challenging the state's action to seize their product 'Kachha Mango Bite' at various places recently.

The state had seized the product saying it contained colours beyond permissible levels and lactic acid, which was not permitted under the regulations.

A bench, headed by Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud asked the respondents to file their replies by October 31.

The petitioner said it was manufacturing 'Kachha Mango Bite' since 2004. On July 11, the company received notice from Food and Safety Officer in Nanded informing that they had taken a sample of this product for analysis.

On October 3, Parle company received another letter from FDA Assistant Commissioner, saying the samples collected on July 11 in Nanded, have been sent to referral laboratory in Ghaziabad for analysis, which revealed that the product contained more than permissible amount of colour and lactic acid, not permitted to be used.

The company said the government's FDA department asked them to recall the product 'Kachha Mango Bite'. On October 3 and 4, Food and Safety Officer of Raigad, Solapur, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nanded, Pune and Thane searched the manufacturing units of Parle company and sealed certain samples of the product.

The petition argued that the notices are "arbitrary, high-handed, illegal and malafide and ultravires the FDA Act and rules and regulations thereunder.

It said the action was based on the contention that lactic acid is not allowed to be used in sugar-boiled sweets and confectionery. This was misconceived because lactic acid, being a harmless ingredient, is allowed to be used in such items the world over, in products like 'Kachha Mango Bite'.

The petition argued that it was clear from the plain reading of regulations that lactic acid is an acidulant, which the company is entitled to and has correctly used as an ingredient in its product.

It argued that samples collected should have been sent for analysis to nearby labs and not in another state such as Ghaziabad.

PTI