HC orders enquiry into e-com sale of re-packaged expired food products

The Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Police Crime Branch to conduct a detailed investigation into the case of alleged re-packaging and sale of expired food products in the city, as per an order accessed by this newspaper.

“The way in which expired products were being reintroduced into markets appeared to be coordinated and systematic,” Justice Prathibha M Singh observed while hearing a plea filed by the popular and well-known, chocolate brand, Hershey’s.

“It appears that a large quantity of goods especially on e-commerce platforms, which achieve expiry dates, are somehow purchased by unscrupulous persons, the manufacturing and expiry dates are changed and re-introduced into the stream of commerce,” Justice Singh said in her recent 14-page order.

Justice Singh also directed that the above order be placed before Acting Chief Justice Manmohan for being taken up on the judicial side in an appropriate manner. The high court directed stern action, ordering a detailed probe after considering that food safety and public health concerns should be given utmost priority.

Going through the material brought on record, Justice Singh passed the order and granted some relief to Hershey’s, as it directed for a detailed investigation by the crime branch of Delhi Police. According to the complaint filed by Hershey’s company, it filed the present suit before the high court and revealed that this case involves safety and public health, particularly relating to food products.

Hershey’s sought immediate stay before Diwali against the defendant (accused company), Atul Jalan, trading as Akshat Online Traders (AOT) from selling expired chocolates by re-packaging the same.

“The AOT is a rank counterfeiter, causing harm to both Hershey’s and the public. The AOT had knowledge of and access to the chocolate company’s marks and packaging, and blatantly copied them, misrepresenting their expired and counterfeit chocolates as plaintiff’s products,” Hershey’s alleged in its petition before the court.

The court also noted that due to the urgent and serious nature of the allegations, it has directed that two Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) inspectors would accompany the local commissioners to conduct a thorough inspection and testing of all products sold by AOT.

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