Days after the Food and Drug Administration department issued a show-cause notice to BEST for putting up ads of banned products on its buses, the department is now all set to issue similar notices to companies, cable operators or actors if they are found promoting banned gutka products on TV screens or newspapers.
According to sources, there are many leading paan masala companies who have been found promoting their products, stating their merchandise is free of magnesium carbonate. However, Maharashtra is the first and only state to ban both gutka and paan masala, and the department has now decided to issue a notice to all these companies if they are found putting up ads in any newspaper or TV channel.
“We have been requesting citizens to keep a cutting of such ads if they find any in newspapers, or make a recording if they are seen on TV. I have also asked my food safety officers to look for such ads. It is very clear by now that gutka and paan masala are banned in the state and nobody can sell or promote banned products,” said Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner of food, FDA.
On July 28, MiD DAY had reported how FDA had issued a show-cause notice to BEST asking why they should not take action against the latter for putting up ads of banned products on its buses (‘FDA hauls up BEST for displaying gutka ads’).
In cases of misleading health products, the department has already registered more than 55 complaints across the state under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act 1955 for putting up objectionable advertisements.
“Many health products are aired on channels with leading actors making tall claims, but unfortunately, they don’t even meet the standards defined by FDA. Hence, we have filed a complaint against channels on which the ads are aired, actors who are promoting the products and also the owners of the brands. Similar action will be initiated against gutka and its promoters,” he added.
What the laws state
Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 prohibits sale of products that contain any substance injurious to health and prohibits tobacco and nicotine as ingredients in any food product
Regulation 3.1.7 of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, restricts use of anti-caking agents like carbonates of calcium and magnesium in foods except where specifically allowed like in table salt, onion powder, fruit powder and soup powder, but not more than 2 per cent.
Past attempts to ban gutka
>> The state issued bans in 2002 and then in 2008, but encountered legal roadblocks
>> In 2010, the state government banned sale of gutka within 100 metres of educational institutions
>> The present ban is under the Food Safety and Standards Act brought into effect last year
>> Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Bihar have already banned the sale of gutka