Beverage containers at sold at outlets of McDonald’s, a fast food chain, in western and southern India will carry the ‘contains caffeine’ warning. The company agreed to carry the warning after the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued a notification asking food and beverage outlets to put the warning on cups or lose licenses.
HT had reported, on January 10, about FDA’s campaign at shopping malls, multiplexes, cinema halls, restaurants and bars and fast food chains that sell caffeinated products without a warning on the containers.
“All the other outlets, using paper glasses have pre-printed warnings unlike the ones McDonald’s was selling. However, they are abiding by the norms and our only intention is to inform the customer about the contents of the drink and not target a company,” said Harshdeep Kamble, FDA commissioner.
Fast food retailers had said FDA was targeting one company when a number of multiplexes, restaurants, food-stalls and fast food chains sell caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee in paper glasses, without warnings. “First of all, there are no specific guidelines on the containers or glasses that are used to dispense the caffeinated beverages. FDA targeting McDonald’s is not nearly practical because all the restaurants, fast food chains, or even smaller hotels who sell caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee in paper glasses, don’t have any warnings,” an official from the fast food industry said. FDA officials argued that they haven’t found violations at any other outlet.
The issue of beverages being sold at a number of outlets without the warning came to light after a Kolhapur-based franchise of McDonald’s India was pulled up by local food and safety officer. However, as the franchise went into an appeal against the action, the issue was heard by FDA Maharashtra commissioner after which the state-wide notification was released.
“Following the directive, Hardcastle Restaurants, a franchise of McDonald’s, has adhered to all statutory requirements, and is in compliance with all applicable laws pertaining to mandatory food labelling. McDonald’s restaurants have implemented the advisory on its packaging. At McDonald’s India, the health, safety and well-being of our customers are paramount. We have always conformed to the highest quality and food safety standards and will continue to do so at all times.” said spokesperson, McDonald’s India - west & south India.
Caffeine is a stimulant found in beverages such as coffee, tea and carbonated drinks. It can treat and prevent premature infant breathing disorders and is on WHO Model list of medicines, but other studies have established that its high doses can cause restlessness, tension, insomnia, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disturbance and irregular heartbeat.