East Singhbhum food safety officer Mahesh Pandey (right) along with others collect sweet samples at Misti’s Kashidih unit on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Diwali and sweets are inseparable. Sadly, so are sweets and adulteration.
Acting on complaints against two reputable mithai-makers of Jamshedpur, a team from East Singhbhum district health department raided a manufacturing unit and a shop on Wednesday. The samples collected will be sent for lab tests to Namkum, Ranchi.
But, mithai lovers are advised to exercise abundant caution while digging into sugary Diwali fares because reports are not expected before a fortnight.
Following a directive from deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal, civil surgeon Jagat Bhusan Prasad and district food safety officer Mahesh Pandey reached the factory of popular mithai chain Misti at Kumharpara in Kashidih in the afternoon.
Sweets manufactured at this unit are sold at Misti outlets in Bhalubasa, Sakchi, Kadma, Mango and Sonari.
During the hour-long crackdown, four samples each of kheer kamala and khoya barfi — both sweets made of ingredients like khoya, cottage cheese, sugar and orange essence — were seized for tests.
“We had received complaints of adulteration against this mithai chain and have collected samples that will be sent to Ranchi this evening. We will receive the report within a fortnight after which the manufacturer, if found guilty of adulteration, will face prosecution,” Prasad said.
Under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 (revised in 2012), sale of adulterated products that are detrimental to health can invite a hefty fine of anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 2 lakh.
Misti partner Achintam Gupta insisted that their products were safe. “We have been in this trade for more than 18 years. We never received complaints. We process milk at our own manufacturing unit and do not purchase khoya or chenna like other shops. We are confident that the lab report will be in our favour,” he said.
The health department team also subjected to scrutiny a new sweet shop — Puja Mithai & Rasoi — in Bhalubasa.
“We are sending 16 pieces of kamala bhog to the Namkum lab for tests. The sweets, according to the manufacturer, are made of cottage cheese, sugar, kesar and orange essence. Any other ingredient found would equal to adulteration,” said food safety officer Pandey.
He added that a lab analyst would require at least a kilogram of sample. “So, we sealed four packets, each containing four pieces of mithai and weighing 250gm.”
Puja Mithai proprietor Sudip Mukherjee said they had opened their outlet only a year ago and there was no question of compromising on quality. “We welcome the initiative of the administration to collect samples (for tests to ensure public safety), but we are confident of our products. They are pure,” he added.
Sources in the health department revealed that mithai-makers, in order to make maximum profits, often use non-permitted colours, starch instead of sugar and aluminium-mixed varakh (normally, a kind of edible silver foil used to decorate sweets).
“These can lead to severe gastrointestinal and digestive disorders,” warned civil surgeon Prasad and maintained that the raids would continue till Diwali (November 3) at other sweet shops in the city.
On why the drive was started in the eleventh hour when public safety during the festival was primary concern, the senior health official said their objective was to instil fear. “Had we conducted raids much earlier, mithai-makers wouldn’t be that worried. But, with Diwali round the corner, no one would risk losing customers,” he reasoned.