The Food and Drugs Administration of Maharashtra has ordered fast food giant McDonald’s to immediately stop selling carbonated drinks, containing artificial sweeteners, in unpacked containers because they did not carry health warnings.
The FDA order dated March 15 comes after the regulatory body during an inspection of the Hardcastle Restaurant Pvt Ltd, a McDonald’s family restaurant at Kolhapur earlier this month found that that the establishment was manufacturing and selling carbonated drinks in loose and unlabeled paper glass. The said drink was prepared by diluting processed water in the post-mix and infusing the mix with carbon dioxide.
“The drink was being sold to customers, including children even when the final product contained aspartame and acesulfame potassium (artificial sweeteners). The label of the post mix does mention tags like, ‘Contains artificial sweetener,’ ‘not recommended for children,’ and ‘not for phenylketonurics (a metabolic disorder which needs strict diet with limited protein), for the calorie conscious.’ However, the drinks sold in glasses did not bear any such warnings,” said FDA commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble.
The action has been taken as per Food and Safety Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on sale) Regulation, 2011 which mentions that, ‘no person shall sell any food product wherein artificial sweetner is permitted under these regulations except under packed condition’.
“After hearing both sides, I have informed McDonald’s officials that it’s a violation of norms to sell the products in open containers because they have health hazards for people with certain metabolic conditions as well as children. The decision is taken in the larger public interest because according to customer rights, they ought to know the content of the product they are buying, especially if it has known, direct or indirect health complications,” said Kamble.
“We at McDonald’s adhere to all statutory requirements, and we are compliant with all applicable laws pertaining to usage of loose cups and glasses. We would like to bring to your notice that for the time being we have decided to follow the FDA directive,” said McDonald’s (West & South) spokesperson.
This is not the first time that the FDA has rapped McDonald’s on the knuckles. In February, the FDA had pulled up the same Mc Donald’s outlet for selling ready-mix beverages without caffeine content warning.
McDonald’s has since started selling ready-mix beverages with caffeine content warning.