regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Maharashtra FDA revokes suspension of licence of McDonald’s outlet after action over cheese

The eatery belonging to the fast food giant had faced FDA scrutiny for allegedly using a “cheese-like” product in their dishes without indicating that it was actually a cheese substitute, thereby misleading customers

PTI Mumbai Published 24.02.24, 03:10 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked the licence of a McDonald’s outlet in the state’s Ahmednagar district after taking action against it over cheese, an official said on Saturday.

The eatery belonging to the fast food giant had faced FDA scrutiny for allegedly using a “cheese-like” product in their dishes without indicating that it was actually a cheese substitute, thereby misleading customers, he said.


Following an inspection and subsequent objections, the licence of the outlet was suspended, but it was revoked recently after the chain filed a compliance report confirming that they had removed the word ‘cheese’ from product names.

“In October 2023, we visited the outlet in Kedgaon and discovered that the names of food items displayed at the outlet included American Cheese Burger, American Cheese Nuggets, Cheese Burger, Italian Cheesy Lava Burger, and Blueberry Cheese Cake. All these names are their brand names for their products," said Rajendra Bade, a food safety official from FDA-Ahmednagar.

After analysing, Bade said, they found that instead of pure cheese, the joint was using a cheese-like product. “Technically, this is called a cheese analogue or cheese substitute. While pure cheese contains milk fat, the cheese analogue contains both milk fat and vegetable fat," he said.

FDA then sought the fast food giant’s clarification over the presence of milk fat and vegetable fat in products advertised as containing cheese.

“Since their clarification was unsatisfactory, we suspended their licence in November last year. They appealed against the suspension before the FDA commissioner in Mumbai. The commissioner heard arguments from both sides and instructed the fast food restaurant chain that they cannot use the word ‘cheese’ in their product names if they are not using real cheese,” he said.

In the order, FDA Commissioner Abhimanyu Kale directed McDonald’s to revise their labelling and prominently tag the products as “cheese analogue nuggets” or “non-dairy cheese nuggets” in a font size and colour that is easily visible and distinguishable from regular cheese products.

The order also required the outlet to list the ingredients on the packaging, ensuring that the terms cheese analogue or non-dairy cheese are prominently displayed.

McDonald's was further told to keep customers informed about the use of cheese analogues in certain products through signage, handouts, and explanations regarding the reasons for using cheese analogues.

In their compliance report, Bade said, the American company said that they had amended the labels. “Upon receiving their compliance report, a decision was made to revoke the suspension, and they have been granted permission to resume business as before,” Bade said.

Hardcastle Restaurant, a subsidiary of Westlife Foodworld Ltd, which has the franchisee rights to own and operate McDonald's restaurants in west and south markets in India, said in its compliance report to the FDA that it had renamed certain products by removing the word 'cheese'.

It listed the items as Cheesy Nuggets (now Veg Nuggets), Mc Cheese Veg Burger (now Cheddar Delight Veg Burger), Mc Cheese Veg Non Veg Burger (Cheddar Delight Non-Veg Burger), Corn and Cheese Burger (American Veg Burger), Grilled Chicken and Cheese Burger (American Non Veg-Burger), Blueberry Cheese Cake (Blueberry Cake), Cheesy Italian Veg Burger (Italian Veg Burger) and Cheesy Italian Chicken Burger (now Italian Chicken Burger).

Meanwhile, Hardcastle Restaurant said on Friday that it was engaging with the "competent authorities" in the FDA matter.

“We are actively engaging with the competent authorities on this issue and awaiting their final clarification. We have always been adhering to stringent food standards and are fully compliant with all applicable food laws,” said a statement from McDonald's India (West & South) shared on BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) by Westlife Foodworld.

“Amid recent reports about the removal of 'Cheese' from our menu at McDonald's locations in Maharashtra, we want to assure our valued customers that only genuine, high-quality cheese is used in all our cheese-containing products," the statement said.

It further said, "Collaborating with suppliers adhering to global standards ensures top-quality cheese in our product offerings and not cheese analogues or any substitute." McDonald's India (West & South) said, “Our commitment to transparency in our ingredients and dedication to providing delicious, high-quality meals to our customers remains unwavering.”

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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