Thane News: Iconic Waghela Tea Depot Under FDA Scrutiny Over Allegations of Adulteration

Thane News: Iconic Waghela Tea Depot Under FDA Scrutiny Over Allegations of Adulteration

The FDA had previously conducted a raid on Waghela Tea Depot on December 8, 2018, suspecting adulteration in their tea products.

Abhitash SinghUpdated: Tuesday, August 15, 2023, 10:35 PM IST
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Waghela Tea depot, Thane | Prashant Narvekar

Thane's Waghela Tea Depot, a renowned and longstanding tea powder store, has caught the attention of the Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) Thane following allegations made by social activist Sashi Agarwal, founder of the NGO Madat Samajik Sanstha in Thane. Agarwal claimed that the proprietor of Waghela Tea Depot was incorporating approximately 1600 parts per million (ppm) of color in their tea powder, surpassing the 100 ppm limit set by both the FDA and the Food Safety & Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).

Prashant Narvekar

The FDA had previously conducted a raid on Waghela Tea Depot on December 8, 2018, suspecting adulteration in their tea products. The store, situated in Thane's main market area, sources tea leaves from Assam and West Bengal, packaging them as "Waghela tea" in various sized bags for sale.

Recognized for offering top-quality tea from across the country, the shop goes by the name "Waghela Instant Mix Powder."

Prashant Narvekar

Sashi Agarwal, the Madat Samajik Sanstha's founder, remarked, "I used to consume Waghela Tea and became addicted to it. However, after consistent consumption, I fell ill. Consulting a doctor revealed that consuming just two cups of the tea could potentially lead to cancer. I even considered sending the tea powder to my daughter in Dubai, but upon learning about its adverse effects, I refrained. Wanting to protect the thousands in Thane who consume this tea, I collected samples and submitted them to the FDA for testing. Although the FDA forwarded the samples to a forensic lab, we have yet to receive the results after eight months. I suspect FDA officials are colluding with the Waghela Tea owner."

Puja Utekar, an advocate from Thane associated with Madat Samajik Sanstha, stated, "We filed a complaint with the Thane FDA on January 5, 2023, regarding the adulteration in Waghela Tea powder. Astonishingly, we received a response from the FDA stating they had collected samples from Waghela Tea on January 3, 2023. This suggests that the FDA was aware, through sources, that our letter was forthcoming on January 5, hence the pre-emptive sampling. An independent agency also examined the tea powder and found a higher level of adulteration than the 100 ppm limit stipulated by the FDA and FSSAI. The FDA pledged to address the agency's report, yet eight months later, there's been no response. If we don't receive a substantial reply from the FDA, legal action is our recourse."

V V Vedpathak, assistant commissioner (Food) in Thane, commented, "We have taken samples from Waghela Tea and sent them to a forensic lab for analysis. Delays are occurring due to the lab's heavy workload, despite our numerous reminders."

Mehul Waghela, representing Waghela Tea Depot, Thane, countered the allegations, stating, "The accusations about using adulterated tea powder beyond the FDA and FSSAI limits are baseless."

In a prior incident in 2018, around 1080 packs of Waghela Tea powder were sealed by the FDA.

Local customers in Thane expressed concerns about placing trust in such an esteemed and established store if adulteration claims are substantiated.

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