Mumbai: Oshiwara couple fall ill after drinking packaged water with worms
Oshiwara family complains to FDA upon falling ill after drinking bottled water; claims it was infested with worms and supplier gave false contact details
Suhail Khan didn't mind paying '60 for bottled water, because he thought he was paying a premium for clean, safe water. Instead, he and his family members fell violently ill after drinking water from a brand called 'Splushh', packaged as a subsidiary of PepsiCo. On closer examination, they found worms and dirt in the bottles. With no response from the dealer nor any action by the Sakinaka police, the family has now complained to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The complaint is against Winsel Aqua's Pvt Ltd, for supplying worm-ridden bottles of Splushh, a packaged water offering by Okey Minerals Water Pvt Ltd.
The Oshiwara-based family were once regular buyers of 20-litre jars of Aquafina, packaged water sold by PepsiCo. However, last year, their local dealer gave them a circular printed on the Aquafina letterhead, stating that the brand was in short supply. They offered to supply Splushh instead. The supplier, Winsel, claimed that Splushh was bottled in the same plant as Aquafina, and would have the same quality level. The letter also stated that Aquafina's supply would be restored in a month. However, several months passed, and the supplier continued to give them Splushh instead of Aquafina.
In November 2017, they ordered six 20-litre bottles of Splushh, but fell ill almost immediately after drinking the water. When they checked the bottles, they found worms and impurities in all six jars. At first, they tried contacting their local dealer, but he stopped responding to their calls.
Next, they called the helpline number on the jar's label, which turned out to be the customer care number for PepsiCo. Khan emailed PepsiCo on December 4, 2017, asking for an explanation. Tulika Mungali, consumer relations executive for PepsiCo responded: "We would like to clarify that 'Splushh' is not our product. We would request you to contact the manufacturer of the said product." "They are using the toll-free number of Pepsi, and have provided a fake website on the jar labels. This is how they are fooling people and putting lives in danger," said Khan.
Cops, FDA say
The family then submitted a written complaint against Winsel to the Sakinaka police, but no action was taken. "The matter comes under the purview of the FDA. They have to do a through laboratory investigation to confirm contamination of water. We have informed the complainant that he needs to approach the FDA and FSSAI," said a senior officer from the Sakinaka police station. The family has since complained to the food and drug watchdog. FDA Commissioner Chandrashekhar Salunke said, "I will have to check the details of the complaint. If there has been any violation of rules, we will look into the matter." Despite repeated attempts to contact Winsel, no one was unavailable for comment.
Price per 20-litre of the bottled water
No. of Splushh bottles they found worms in
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