Amid 'Cheesy' Row, CAIT Seeks Pan-India Ban On McDonald's

Amid 'Cheesy' Row, CAIT Seeks Pan-India Ban On McDonald's

The move comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended the license of the said outlet on the ground that it was using cheese analogues in place of real cheese.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Friday, February 23, 2024, 09:21 PM IST
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In the wake of alleged health violations at a McDonald's outlet in Ahmednagar, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has asked the Centre to ban the American fast food giant across India. Substantiating its demand, the body reasoned that the “egregious act (of McDonald's) not only constitutes a serious offence, but also poses a significant health hazard to consumers.”

FDA suspended outlet's license for using cheese analogues

The move comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended the license of the said outlet on the ground that it was using cheese analogues in place of real cheese. The action has prompted McDonald's to drop the word cheese from various items.

In a letter written to Union ministry of consumer affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, CAIT national president B C Bhartia and secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said, “Maharashtra FDA has uncovered a grave health violation at a McDonald’s outlet in Ahmednagar, where counterfeit cheese was found in the burgers. In light of this alarming discovery, the CAIT urgently calls upon the Government of India to take immediate action to ban McDonald’s operations across the country.” A copy of the letter was also sent to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. The CAIT also demanded a “thorough investigation into the matter to uncover the extent of the issue and hold parties, responsible for endangering public health and safety, accountable”.

FDA to conduct inspection at all outlets in Maharashtra

Meanwhile, FDA Commissioner Abhimanyu Kale said that they will be conducting inspections at all McDonald's outlets across Maharashtra to ensure they are not using cheese substitutes. “So far, we did not find any norms being violated but still inspections will be done so that consumers are not misled.” Other pizza and burger joints will also be checked as they all might also be indulging in the same practice, he added.

Cheese analogues are designed to replicate the taste, texture and functionality of traditional dairy cheese. These substitutes typically replace milk or dairy fat with more cost-effective vegetable oil. During inspection at Ahmednagar's McDonald's outlet, the FDA found out that it did not specify that cheese analogues were being used in items like cheese nuggets, cheesy dip and cheese burger.

Menu cards should clearly state the use of analogues: Kale

Later, Kale issued an order, underlining the necessity for clear labelling and using font size and colours distinguishable from regular cheese. Additionally, he insisted on the display of nutritional information for products made with substitutes. Kale said that up to 40% of display boards in establishments should be used to specify nutritional values. “Menu cards should clearly state the use of analogues, addressing allergen concerns, and diet concerns such as presence of higher trans-fat,” he said.

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