Despite ban, Food and Drug Administration fails to pin down businesses using stapled teabags

Mumbai: Almost two years after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification, ordering an immediate ban on the use of stapler pins on teabags, the practice continues unchecked. This is because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed to crack down on food business operators (FBOs) violating the order, citing a ‘staff crunch’ for its failure to conduct regular inspections. According to officials, the FDA has failed to conduct a single inspection to check if the ban is being observed, as they have yet to record a single violation of the FSSAI order.

“FSSAI had issued a circular in July 2017, stating the use of pins on teabags should be banned immediately. But despite this ban, such teabags continue to be used. Roadside tea vendors regularly offer stapled teabags to customers,” said an official.
“We are closely monitoring the issue but have yet to receive complaints. If we receive any such complaint, violators will face stern action,” he said.

However, another official from the department said there was a shortage of staff, which was impeding their ability to conduct inspections. “Most tea-sellers who use such teabags do their business at night, so we need to keep vigil at midnight. But sadly, we lack the staff strength for such nocturnal rounds. As for private companies selling these items, consumers must bring it to our notice but we have not yet heard from consumers so far,” the officer added.

Doctors have cautioned that the use of stapled teabags can prove lethal if it is inadvertently detached from the bag, falls into the tea and is consumed. “In the past, there have been reports of people having swallowed staple pins with their tea. These pins are made of iron and have a zinc coating. So, if accidentally consumed, it may harm the stomach lining as it may cause bleeding and even poisoning,” said a general physician.

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