A raid on a food factory in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad unearthed mounds of animal bones on Tuesday, officials said, raising fears that the cattle remains were used to adulterate biscuits.
Sources in the food department suspected that the factory could have been using animal bones as powder or in other forms to make the biscuits "more crispy and tasty".
The discovery comes days after the Centre announced setting up of a task force to recommend changes in the Food Safety and Standards Act, the legislation which regulates food quality in the country. Lawmakers had also raised the issue in Parliament earlier this month, terming food adulteration as a "slow poison."
Moradabad designated officer of food security and drug administration Umesh Pratap suspended the license of the factory located in the Katghar area of Moradabad, around 300 km from capital Lucknow.
"We have collected samples of finished and semi-finished products along with other ingredients used in preparing rusk and biscuits and sent them to a laboratory for testing," said VK Rathi, chief food security officer of Moradabad.
Pratap also said that the recovery of "bone residuals inside the factory premises in itself is violation of food security norms".
He added that the owner of the factory could face a jail term and fine of Rs five lakh "if the tests confirm adulteration or presence of ingredients which are unsafe for human health".
The factory, Armoa Foods, is owned by one Azim Iqbal who has two units in Moradabad for making biscuits.
Officials said he failed to "to give a satisfactory reply" on why such huge volume of bones were stored inside the factory premises.
Health experts said that food products adulterated with such animal remains could have adverse effect on human health.
"Their consumption could lead to infections and sometimes several chronic diseases," said Tanuraj Sirohi, former secretary of Indian Medical Association in Meerut.
City magistrate AK Srivastav said that the owner also faced charges for employing child labour as "children below 14 years were working in the factory".