Sunday, April 24, 2011


Graduating from a small business into the big league is not an easy task and no lesson seems to have been learned by those aspiring to be big about the increased responsibility that comes along. The recent set back suffered by one of the ethnic food manufacturers in India being hauled up for safety violations in Canada must provide a warning about the dangers in lowering the guard by the manufacturers in conforming to the food laws of the country where their products are marketed. This particular case is relatively minor as the manufacturer was guilty of using an allergic chemical ingredient without declaring its presence on the label but it still can cause lot of damage to the image of the brand as well as that of the country.

"In what could be considered a setback to the Rs 500-crore Haldiram's Food International Limited, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency(CFIA) has warned its country's citizens against consuming the city-based group's petha sweet as the product contained sulphites, which are sulphur-containing compounds used as additives to preserve food and beverages, but which, in rare cases, can also lead to life-threatening reactions in allergic or sensitive persons. According to sources, the Toronto-based importer of Haldiram's Petha - Quality Natural Food - has voluntarily recalled the product from the markets. The importer has also cautioned Canadian citizens, especially those suffering from allergies, not to consume the sweet as it may lead to life-threatening reaction. This sweet, believed to have originated from Agra and sold across the world including Canada, contains sulphites as one of the ingredients whose quantity has not been declared on the packaging. Director of Haldiram's group on Nagpur Sushil Agrawal admitted that they had received a message to this effect from their Canada-based dealer and they would soon be initializing steps to make necessary changes. The company has recalled about 20 cartons costing about $300 (Rs 15,000). "It's happening with us for the first time but it's not a serious matter. They just wanted to have percentage of Sulphite contents printed on the packets. We anyhow mention use of Sulphite as one of the ingredients but haven't specified its percentage in parts per million (PPM). Now, we will paste new stickers having mention of Sulphite percentage in PPM on the packets," he clarified".

Petha, generally made from ash gourd traditionally in some regions of Uttar Pradesh in India by micro enterprises or home based small units, many of which lack adequate infrastructure for maintaining uniform quality and ensuring consistent safety assurance. It is for the marketing organizations who undertake the responsibility of exporting these products to provide at least the necessary technical inputs to generate confidence amongst the buyers. India food industry is known to ignore the importance of technical personnel in quality and safety assurance, often employing cheap and under qualified workers to man their operations. The consequences of such neglect, what ever be the reason, can be catastrophic in the long run and the "writing on the wall" is clear-"change for the good or perish"!

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