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Consumer Protection Body Asks FSSAI to Take Action Against Adulteration Reported in Honey Brands

Representative image/Reuters

Representative image/Reuters

Last week, environment watchdog CSE claimed that honey sold by several major brands in India has been found to be adulterated with sugar syrup. However, the companies have refuted the claims.

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has asked food regulator FSSAI to take appropriate action against adulteration reported in certain honey brands and also extended cooperation for investigation for taking class action.

Last week, environment watchdog CSE claimed that honey sold by several major brands in India has been found to be adulterated with sugar syrup. However, the companies have refuted the claims.

In an official statement, the consumer affairs ministry expressed concern over the reported adulteration of honey.

"It has been reported to the Department that most of the honey brands sold in the market are adulterated with sugar syrup. This is a serious matter as it will compromise our health in the troubled times of COVID-19 and add to the risk of COVID-19," the ministry said.

The Department of Consumer Affairs asked CCPA to look into matter, it added.

"The CCPA, in accordance with section 19(2) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, after preliminary examination, has referred the matter to the FSSAI, the food regulator, to take appropriate action in the matter...

"...and has offered to extend cooperation in investigation of the matter for taking class action as envisaged in section 10 of the Act," the statement said.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) food researchers selected 13 top as well as smaller brands of processed and raw honey being sold in India to check their purity. It was found that 77 per cent of the samples were adulterated with sugar syrup. Out of the 22 samples checked, only five passed all the tests.

"Honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya, all failed the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test," the study said.

Emami (Zandu), Dabur, Patanjali Ayurveda and Apis Himalaya have refuted the claims made by CSE.

A day after the CSE study was released, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) sought details of the tests, even as it raised questions over why its prescribed tests were not conducted.

The FSSAI had stated that the CSE found the adulterants by using "the non-prescription" Trace Marker for Rice syrup (TMR) test instead of "a more sensitive" Specific Marker for Rice syrup test (SMR).

The consumer affairs department further said it takes the consumer issues seriously.

Recently, it took note of an incident where a 40-year-old man set himself on fire in a Rohini mall and got burn injuries after a mobile phone service centre allegedly refused to replace a phone he had bought for his niece, a class 12th student, for her online classes.

The department took up the matter with the mobile phone company concerned.

"The mobile company has informed that they have decided to compensate the consumer with Rs 1,00,000/- and a new Mobile handset," the statement said.

It further said it was observed that some e-commerce entities were violating the mandatory requirement of declaration of product information on their platforms.

"Therefore, notices have been issued to various e-commerce entities for non-compliances," the statement said.

The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 are framed to regulate the pre-packaged commodities.

Under these rules, the pre-packaged commodities have to comply with certain mandatory information on e-commerce platform by the seller in the interest of consumers.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, is the nodal department for consumer protection.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has came into force from July, 20 2020, which provides for a three tier quasi-judicial machinery to provide simple and speedy redressal to consumer disputes.

The CCPA has been established to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumer as a class.

first published:December 10, 2020, 23:19 IST