Guwahati, July 30: After Maggi was taken off the shelves in Assam in June, Dispur today banned products of two state-based companies for a month.
According to an official communiqué, Annapurna Chilli Sauce, manufactured by Satez Agro Products Pvt Ltd, was found to contain benzoic acid while Niyor Packaged Drinking Water manufactured by Blue Bell Enterprise was found to contain flouride higher than the maximum permissible limit.
The maximum permissible limit of benzoic acid, used as a preservative in chilli sauces and other processed food, is 75 parts per million while that of fluoride is one part per million.
"Upon receipt of reports from Assam food analyst and director of Referral Food Laboratory, Ghaziabad, the state government banned Annapurna Chilli Sauce and Niyor Packaged Drinking Water for an initial period of 30 days with immediate effect," the communiqué said.
Assam food analyst Anupam Gogoi told The Telegraph today the chilli sauce samples tested were found to be sub-standard while the packaged water samples were found to be unsafe.
"There was an appeal by Satez following which the samples of the chilli sauce were referred to the laboratory in Ghaziabad where benzoic acid was found to be above the permissible limits."
When asked, Satez managing director Subir Ghosh said, "Things are not very clear. The samples were collected almost a year back and we have not received any papers thereafter. As it is, we will wait till the 30 days are over for the samples to be taken again."
He alleged that one of the food inspectors had demanded money during the visit.
When asked, food analyst Gogoi said, "This is a serious allegation. However, without knowing the inspector's name, we cannot comment."
Calls to authorities of Blue Bell Enterprise, however, went unanswered.
Consumption of benzoic acid beyond permissible limits is linked to asthma problems and increased levels of hyperactivity in children. Fluoridation of water is done essentially to prevent cavities.
"But by the looks of it, if the fluoride levels go beyond the permissible limits, the negative effects clearly outweigh the positives," said Karthik Seshan, a research associate with the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, a Secunderabad-based NGO.
"Consumption of fluoride beyond permissible limits may lead to dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis that leads to weakening of the skeletal structure," Seshan, who visits Assam for research, told The Telegraph.