Food Safety Department seizes 24,000 bottles of expired soft drinks in Chennai

Two godowns raided in Pulianthope and a house searched in Perambur

A team of officials of the Food Safety Department on Monday raided a godown at Pulianthope and seized nearly 24,000 bottles of branded soft drinks that had expired in 2020 and 2021 but were being distributed to shops and TASMAC bars. The raid led the team to a soft drink manufacturing unit in Perambur which had violated manufacturing protocols.

P. Satheesh Kumar, designated officer, Food Safety Department, Chennai, who led the four-member team, said based on information that expired beverages were stocked and supplied from the godown, they raided the facility being operated on the erstwhile Binny Mills premises in Pulianthope.

“We found 24,315 bottles of branded soft drinks that had crossed the expiry dates. Some bottles had expiry dates in 2020, while the majority had expired in 2021. They had mixed and kept some bottles that had not crossed the expiry date. This godown is one of the main distribution units,” he said.

“On inquiry, we obtained information that more than to shops, these expired beverages were supplied to TASMAC bars,” he said.

On finding another godown nearby, the team inquired about what was being stored in the facility. “We were told that they kept plywood but we decided to inspect the godown. We found several soft drink sachets of local brand without dates. On examining the packets, we took the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) number and found that the licence had expired,” he said.

This led the team to the manufacturing unit in Perambur. There was no factory in the listed address but only a house where beverages were manufactured, he said. “They were manufacturing buttermilk and juices with a different licence. Some packets of soft drinks had dates and there were packets without any dates. We found the use of illegal ingredients. They were using saccharin as artificial sweetener in the soft drinks and were also using benzoic acid and citric acid.

Fine imposed
While the godown had several rats, the team found that the Perambur manufacturing unit did not follow manufacturing protocols. The godown and factory were temporarily locked and notices issued seeking explanation, he said and added that as a first step, a fine of ₹5,000 was imposed. While the worth of the branded beverages would be around ₹25 lakh, about ₹2 lakh to ₹3 lakh worth products were seized from the Perambur manufacturing unit.

“We have lifted samples from both places and have sent them for laboratory analysis to check if they are fit for human consumption. If found unsafe, it will become a criminal offence and we will initiate legal proceedings,” he said.

He said while buying soft drinks, particularly of local brands, consumers should check the manufacturing and expiry dates, whether the ingredients used in manufacturing were listed on the label along with, maximum retail price and FSSAI licence.

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