Products will be subjected to stringent quality tests; manufacturers must acquire licence from FDA under Food Safety and Standards Act

As per the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) latest norm, gutka manufacturers will now have to acquire licences from the administration under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) before they either manufacture or sell their products. It is also learnt that as a part of quality control measures, the FDA will now be testing gutka for its added colour and flavours.

Stringent measures: As part of a quality control measure, the FDA
will now be testing gutka for its colour and flavours. Representation pic

"We don't wish to take chances with products that are consumed by the people. Hence, we have sent notices to all gutka manufacturers to either seek the FSSA licence or be ready to stop their production. We do not want even a single packet of gutka to be released in the market without being tested for its quality by our department," said Suresh Deshmukh, assistant commissioner (food), FDA.

Deshmukh revealed that for the past one year, the FDA was engaged in a legal battle with gutka manufacturers. "They fought on the basis that their products were already included under Tobacco Act, and it required no other classification. However, the court ruled in our favour, stating that gutka should be classified separately. Hence we have now decided to crack down on gutka manufacturers flouting the norms."

He added, "To ensure that norms are strictly followed, we have hired about 67 extra food inspectors. In addition, each division will get an additional assistant commissioner. This will ease our work and help us keep an eye on the manufacturers. We are yet to do the same with liquor manufacturers and retailers, as the matter is pending in court."

'Not fair'
"This is unfair. The government wants to cripple us by imposing thousands of rules and regulations. Already, under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COPTA), nicotine content in the product is monitored.

This new rule of securing licences is just another way of harassing us," lamented a pan masala manufacturer.
According to Samarth Salunke, a pan masala retailer at Dadar, "When all the gutka manufacturers are abiding by the COPTA Act, then why do we need new licences? This will lead to extortion from the FDA officials. Why can't we have rules as straight as an arrow? With retailers already shelling out for acquiring shop and establishment licence from the BMC, the new rule will break our backs."