A routine inspection drive conducted by the Jaipur health department earlier this month revealed that three branches of McDonald’s – a popular fast food chain – were reportedly using oil that was over 16 days old.
The discovery has spurred department officials to check if popular fast food chains in the city adhere to prescribed food safety standards. “During an inspection drive on June 17, we were shocked to find that the oil being used by three McDonald’s outlets was 16 days old. The oil had turned black because it was being heated constantly at 360 degrees Celsius for all those days. The management was unable to give us a satisfactory answer,” said Narottam Sharma, chief medical and health officer, Jaipur.
There were other problems too. “We also found that palmolein oil was being used at all McDonald’s branches in Jaipur. Palmolein oil is less healthy when compared to other edible oils such as soybean oil,” Sharma said.
During the inspection drive, the team of food inspectors also discovered that McDonald’s outlets at Panchbatti, Elements Mall and Crystal Palm did not have a proper oil management system. Over 100 litres of used oil – purportedly meant to prepare delicacies such as French fries – were found in their storerooms. “We destroyed the stockpile of used oil we found at these branches, and took samples for testing. The outlets have been served with an improvement notice. We will decide on the next course of action after we get a comprehensive report on the samples from the laboratory,” said Sharma.
Department officials are also conducting surprise raids on other restaurants and fast food outlets, including KFC, Domino’s, Subway and Pizza Hut.
However, McDonald’s denied the allegations levelled against it. “McDonald’s India follows a robust oil management system that has been developed and used worldwide by the corporation in 130 countries over the past 60 years. These processes are the best in class, and ensure that the oil being used is checked every day. We have not yet received a notice from the authorities. Once we receive it, we will respond to it accordingly,” said an official spokesperson of McDonald’s India (North & East).
The spokesperson pointed out that India’s food safety authorities have not defined the standards for oil management. “Despite that, we at McDonald’s follow reliable benchmarked processes to ensure that safe food of consistent quality is sold across all our restaurants,” he said.