NGO takes Kerala based ice-cream manufacturer to task.

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Panaji, Mar 25(UNI) The alleged attempt by a Kerala based Ice-cream manufacturer to deceive Goan consumers received a severe set back after a local NGO decided to intensify its drive against spurious, fake and adulterated products in the state.

On a tip-off by an alert consumer, Goa Civic and Consumer Action Network (GOACAN) filed a complaint in Mapusa with Legal Metrology dept's Asst Controller, D P Kholkar on Feb 22 stating that a product styled as SKEI Frozen Dessert was being sold at various outlets in Mapusa and villages of Bardez in violation of the Packaged Commodities Rules.

Acting on the complaints of GOACAN, the department booked a case against the distributor and manufacturer while the FDA sealed the freezers of the distributor with the condition that the entire consignment would have to be returned to the manufacturer in Kerala and would not be allowed to be kept in Goa.

The ice-cream labelled as ''Kricket Bar'', stated on its package that the product contained permitted synthetic food colours and added flavours having a net weight of 30 gms when packed.

Interestingly, the package stated ''best before 12 months from the date of packing when stored under 18 degree celcius,'' but the date of packing was not mentioned, according to the NGO coordinator Roland Martins here today.

Moreover, the package did not have name or address of the manufacturer or packer nor did it have the printed MRP on the pack.

Investigation by GOACAN have revealed that the said ice-cream has been manufactured by Northshore Foods (P) Ltd, Kunjatur, Kerala 671 323 and distributed by C H Enterprises based at Karaswado, Mapusa.

Further investigations have revealed that the modus operandi was to unload these huge stocks of ice-cream into the state without the mandatory labeling so as to escape taxation, payment of VAT and other procedures before the end of the financial year (March 31).

The manufacturer also attempted to hoodwink the law by not keeping any trace of the source, the quantities and price of the product by not issuing invoices to the retailers as mandated by the law.

GOACAN also filed a complaint with Directorate of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director P K Jain stating that the ice-cream being a food product was being sold without the date of manufacture and packing and thus was likely to cause harm to the health and safety of the consumers in Goa if consumed beyond the specified time limit.

Despite cases being booked, the Kerala based manufacturer re-introduced the ice-cream by using a label with printed matter which was unreadable due to fine print and would require the a consumer to carry a magnifying glass to read the same.

The distributor, on being summoned by the FDA officials, sought to save the already printed 40,000 packets by agreeing to rubber stamp all the packaging with details such as name of the manufacturer, batch no, date of packing and MRP.

On receiving fresh complaints from consumers, GOACAN once again alerted officials of Legal Metrology that the ice-cream was now sold showing the manufacturer's address as ''Kerala 671 323'', which way unacceptable under the packaged commodity rules and Legal Metrology Controller N M Naik assured prompt action in the matter.

''It is evident that the laid-back atmosphere in Goa experienced by the tourist is what the manufacturers from other states of India are looking for from the Goan consumer,'' he said.

In this regard, GOACAN has written to the Director, Legal Metrology, Dept of Consumer Affairs, seeking awareness for consumers on the Packaged Commodities Rules in various regional languages.

This was to address the over 20 lakh domestic tourists who visit the state of Goa and are susceptible to cheating, when they purchase consumer products which are spurious, adulterated, fake, expired and over priced.

GOACAN had also cautioned shop keepers and retailers to desist from taking supplies and stocks from distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers from outside the State without verifying whether the products and goods are violative of the relavant laws.

The Consumer Forum volunteers will resort to direct action by lodging complaints which may there by result in economic loses due to sealing of premises, seizure of goods and payments of huge fines.

Meanwhile, GOACAN has also taken up the matter with the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and sought their co-operation to curtail the unfair trade practices and flooding of the Goan market with spurious, adulterated, fake and expired products which is putting the Goan consumer to great inconvenience, mental agony and financial loss.

UNI/BM DB VD RS1452

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