In a recent development on regulatory compliances, the legal metrology department under Ministry of Food, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs has directed its officials to verify labels of packaged drinking water products for varying MRP and authenticate them for obtaining licences issued by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Legal Metrology Department.
The order issued by the Central Ministry urges officials to keep a check if the packaged drinking water sold in the market (plastic water cans or packaged bottles) comply with labeling rules. “We have directed our team to conduct inspections in the market on two major issues—dual MRP printed on the labels of packaged drinking water bottles in the market and the long-standing issue of logo that needs to be printed on labels of packaged drinking water products. We may see different MRP printed on the products sold in malls, cinema theatres and other similar destinations. Both FSSAI and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) mark, known as ISI, should be printed on the bottles. Defaulters will be liable to fine and punishment according to the FSSAI and BIS,” states Aditya Khalse, chief vigilance officer – Mumbai division, Department Legal Metrology.
The Mumbai division of the legal metrology department has received complaints from Maharashtra state complaining of many retailers selling packaged drinking water bottles which are suspicious. With the development of FSSAI app and with people registering complaints, the officials have passed the complaints to the legal metrology department who have begun investigations on packaged drinking water products in the market.
Action was taken on receiving complaint in the state of Haryana, where the FSSAI logo was found missing on a packaged drinking water bottle. The bottle also had different pricing printed on its label. Khalse says, “We have initiated vigilance and have towed a team from Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Maharashtra for stringent inspections all over the state. The FDA officials are helping us with their local offices to address similar complaints and to check whether the complaints are resolved.”
The FDA of Maharashtra has conducted a drive to check packaged drinking water and gutkha all over the state. FDA has been receiving several complains about many packaged drinking water products which are packed under the label of popular liquor brands. To name a few, McDowell and Royal Challenge are some of the brands under inspection. FDA Maharashtra has sent around 435 notices to packaged drinking water businesses for labeling and other packaging requirements since January 2017.
Some of these units or the contractors who have been involved in the business are based in Bengaluru. Thus, such cases are handed over to the legal metrology department which works under a central ministry and can access their resources across all the states for inspections and investigations.