Health products can make you sick

Apr 02, 2012, 07:29 IST | Urvashi Seth

Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration has decided to crack the whip on commodities that are misleading consumers with outlandish promises

Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration has decided to crack the whip on commodities that are misleading consumers with outlandish promises

Weight-loss products that'll cause you to put on a few kilos instead, energy drinks that give you sleepless nights � the markets are glutted with merchandise masquerading as health commodities, whose adverse effects far outweigh, or at least cancel out, any benefits they might possess. Now, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to crack its whip on these products that are misleading consumers.

Officials of the department are busy collecting samples of these commodities and are getting them tested to verify whether the said products actually deliver on the promises they make. An FDA official, on the condition of anonymity, said, "Recently the Vidhan Sabha discussed the issue of malpractices involving various leading products and how they are fooling consumers. Hence, the department decided to get these health products tested. Some of them proclaim they have no fats and are ideal for people looking to lose weight. But unfortunately we discovered that the fat content in some of these commodities is quite high. The manufacturers make myriad promises just to lure consumers and people end up paying a heavy price, an not just in monetary terms."

Liquid lure
In one such incident, FDA seized 16.3 lakh cans worth Rs 6.40 crore of a popular energy drink from two premises in Thane. Officials said the raid was conducted because the caffeine content in the product was between 250 parts per million (ppm) and 300 ppm. According to Indian food safety laws, the permissible limit for caffeine in carbonated beverages is 145 ppm.

Caffeine, a mildly addictive stimulant, is commonly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. Increased caffeine consumption can lead to health problems such as anxiety, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, low heart rate and issues with maternal fertility. "Youngsters are consuming energy drinks a lot these days. High amount of caffeine is injurious to health and the particular product was found to be misleading consumers. Only after we got it scientifically tested did we find out its harmful effects," said the official.

Confirming that the department has tightened its vigil on such products that fool buyers, GH Rathod, joint commissioner (food), FDA said, "We have issued notices to various companies and will take stern action against manufacturers that deceive consumers. We are running a strict vigil across the state. We appeal to people to inform us if they find any products misleading.

There are products that promise weight loss in just two weeks or so. But the fact is they don't help. Instead, you put on more weight. Government should ban these goods and should let only genuine products survive in the market. After spending so much money, what you get in the end is not beneficial. -- Sameera Sen, voice trainer

None of these products are trustworthy. Instead, one should rely on homemade food, salads and fruits.
My husband used to take a lot of health supplements to tone his muscles, but none worked well. A thorough check should be done by authorities before these products are released in the market. -- Shobhana Singh, homemaker

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