The Enforcement Branch (EB) of the city police on Tuesday busted a racket in spurious baby food, packed in tins and packets bearing labels of well-known brands. Sleuths said the racket had been flourishing for the past six months, at least.
On Tuesday morning, EB officials swooped down on a Burrabazar godown and seized 4,500 kg of spurious baby food, packed and ready for despatch. Police sources said five persons were detained and the godown sealed for investigations. “The kingpins should be in the net in the next few days,’’ said a senior officer.
The swoop prompted additional commissioner of police Sujit Sarkar, in charge of EB, to issue a directive to shop-owners and customers on Tuesday evening, advising care while buying baby food and other consumer items. “If any discrepancy is noticed in baby food, a complaint should be lodged at the local police station or the EB control room,’’ Sarkar said. “Customers should be especially alert about the packaging of the tins,” he warned.
Deputy commissioner of police Rajeev Kumar said the godown at 99D, Raja Katra had huge stocks of milk powder of nationally-known brands. Kumar said the miscreants would grind low-quality sugar and mix it with the ‘original’ milk powder. “They have installed some machines in the godown to grind the sugar and mix it with the milk powder,’’ he added. According to preliminary investigations, the ratio of such a mixture was one spoon of the branded milk powder to three spoons of powdered sugar. “The profit comes from the difference in price. While baby milk costs Rs 100 to Rs 150 a kg, sugar is Rs 16 a kg in the open market,’’ said an officer of the investigating team.
The spurious milk powder is then packaged in tins and plastic packs, sealed with a foil using a machine installed on the premises and then distributed to the shops. “The adulterated milk looks like the original, though it tastes different, and it would be impossible to tell the difference,’’ deputy commissioner Kumar said.
The milk powder extracted from the branded tins is adulterated with the ground, low-grade sugar, packed in ‘duplicate’ tins made locally and then distributed. Police said they have started a case. “We have got in touch with officials of a milk major in Gujarat, as well as the manufacturers of a popular brand in Punjab. We have contacted our counterparts there, too,’’ Kumar added.
EB officers said documents seized in the raid suggest that the spurious milk may have reached shops in Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas, Burdwan and Birbhum.