FDA gives gutka firms something to chew over

Apr 06, 2012, 07:44 IST | Urvashi Seth

Is planning to ban food products that are injurious to health; move comes after seized gutka packets test positive for magnesium carbonate

It’s all happening in a circuitous way. With the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deciding to ban food products that are injurious to health, it appears that the administration has decided to crack down on gutka manufacturers.

As per law, no state yet has the power to prohibit manufacturing and sale of gutka. However, looking at the ever-increasing gutka menace in the state, FDA, under the new law — Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) — is considering a complete ban on sale of food products that are injurious to health.

OPEN AT YOUR OWN RISK: Laboratory tests revealed that most of the gutka packets that were seized by FDA officials in the past few months had around seven per cent of magnesium carbonate. Representation pic

In the raids conducted by FDA, officials seized gutka packets available at retail stores and got them tested.
Results revealed that most of the contents had around seven per cent of magnesium carbonate.

“We have seized gutka packets of various companies, and discovered that while 80 per cent of the content was edible, the remaining 20 per cent contained magnesium carbonate, nicotine, etc, which are injurious to health,” said Suresh Deshmukh, assistant-commissioner (food), FDA.

He also revealed that the crackdown was initiated a few months ago and FDA officials have seized thousands of gutka packets from across the state.

“Soon, we will ban the presence of nicotine or magnesium carbonate from consumable products. Though we cannot ban gutka in the state, but we can definitely have control over its ingredients,” he added.

Deshmukh said that the administration is seeking several opinions for the same and will frame a new law soon.

“We are in talks with doctors from TATA hospital and are seeking their view too on the same. We can’t do much if somebody wants to consume tobacco at his own will. But, the least we can do is, prevent sale of food products with tobacco. Since gutka comes under FSSA, we cannot let harmful products enter the market,” Deshmukh explained.

Earlier, MiD DAY had reported (All gutka packets to need FDA approval, Jan 14) that as per FDA’s latest norms, gutka manufacturers would have to acquire licences from the administration under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) before they either manufacture or sell their products. It was also learnt that as a part of quality control measures, FDA would be testing added colours and flavours. 

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