Two popular restaurant chains, KFC and Sagar Ratna, are serving rice dishes that have been found to be “unsafe” due to the presence of harmful artificial colouring, the Delhi government’s food safety department has said in a report submitted to the high court.
The “unsafe” dishes mentioned are fast-food giant KFC’s Rizo Rice served at its restaurant at Scindia House in Connaught Place, and some rice recipes from South Indian favourite Sagar Ratna’s outlet in Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar. Both chains operate scores of restaurants across the Capital.
Random samples were taken from the two restaurants and tested between January 2013 and October 2014. “Legal action has been initiated against them by the department,” the report said.
The report also said action has been initiated against a third restaurant, Bikanerwala, after “one sample of fruit and vegetable chutney was found to be sub-standard”.
Both KFC and Sagar Ratna denied the allegations.
“We only use natural colour (beta carotene) sourced from highly reputed international suppliers in our Rizo Rice meals. The recent rice sample collected by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has also been analysed at an NABL-accredited independent lab at the same time and it confirms that tartrazine or any other synthetic colour is not present in the product. We are confident of our product quality and are working closely with the regulatory authorities,” said a KFC statement released to HT.
Similarly, Sagar Ratna CEO Murali Krishna Parna said, “Sagar Ratna has had a lineage of providing great quality food and good service in a clean ambience to a large customer base, several of whom have been our loyal customers for years. We are aware of this visit to our outlet by FSSAI officials in February 2013. We have been very cooperative throughout the entire inspection. The sample picked up by FSSAI was primarily the raw uncooked rice. We source this rice from various known brands of rice producers. The raw uncooked rice is first washed and cleaned thoroughly, boiled properly and then only is it cooked according to different recipes and served to customers. This is a standard and stringent procedure adopted at all our outlets. The matter is currently sub-judice.” Attempts to elicit a response from Bikanervala went unanswered.
In March, the high court had observed that some fruits and vegetables sold in the Capital were “unfit for human consumption”, basing its remark on an expert committee report that said 5.3% of vegetables and 0.5% of fruits had pesticide traces above the maximum residue limit. The report claimed pesticides such as chlordane, endrin, heptachlor, ethyl and parathion — that can cause neurological problems, kidney damage, cancer and other diseases — were being liberally used in growing a number of vegetables.
As part of its safety drive, the Delhi government department also tested 648 samples of fruits and vegetables sold in the city’s markets. Two fruit samples (mosambi or sweet lime and pear) and one vegetable sample (beans) showed residues of a pesticide, fenthion, that were above the permissible limit prescribed in the FSS (Contaminants, Toxin and Residue) Regulation, 2011, the report said. It went on to say that a number of ghee samples collected and tested over the past two years from various outlets “were of sub-standard quality and ‘misbranded’ to mislead the public”. Of the tomato ketchup samples examined, one sample of vegetable sauce was “unsafe” and another “misbranded”.
HT had reported Monday that reports of alarming levels of pesticide residue in farm produce has prompted the Centre to work on a “grow safe food campaign” that could entail policy initiatives on pesticide use.