Consumers of Mango Bite, the yellow-and-green-colour-wrapped candy, will be in for a sour surprise when they walk up next time to their neighbourhood paan wallah asking for the brand. Chances are they aren’t likely to get it as the Maharashtra unit of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has asked the manufacturer, Mumbai-based Parle Products, to recall from the marketplace the entire stock, saying it was "unsafe".
This follows a recent raid by officials of the Konkan Division of FDA at Raigadh and Bhiwandi, where a stock of finished goods and ingredients worth Rs 2 crore was seized.
FDA officials say the company was using buffered lactic acid, an ingredient not permitted under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006 in Mango Bite, hence the decision to order a recall of the product.
Interestingly, this is not the first time Parle Products has been asked to recall Mango Bite. In 2009 and 2010, the company, which also ranks among the largest biscuit makers in the country, was asked to take the product off shelves because it was using a colour not permitted under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006.
As for the present, Maharashtra FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagde, when contacted, said the body would continue carrying out state-wide raids to ascertain whether the company making Mango Bite was using buffered lactic acid. "So far, stocks of the candy have been seized in Nashik and Konkan. All the food safety inspectors across the state have been alerted to carry out similar raids in their respective areas," he said.
The use of lactic acid (chiefly found in milk products) has been banned in foodstuff after a bench found it not good for consumption due to its tooth-decaying side effects.
A Parle Products spokesperson, when contacted, said that the company was looking into the matter. "We are awaiting information from the FDA authorities pertaining to the recalling of our stocks.
Further course of action would be based on that," the spokesperson said.
According to industry estimates, the candy market in India is estimated to be Rs 3,500 crore. Of this, 70 per cent is sugar candy, and the rest chocolate candy. The market, according to analysts, is growing at seven-eight per cent per annum.
Besides Parle, other key candy and confectionary players include Perfetti Van Melle, ITC, Nestle, Ravalgaon, Candico, Cadbury and Lotte.