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Victory for Common Sense in PRFJC vs. FSSAI

Posted: Tuesday, 28 July 2015 17:58


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Victory for Common Sense in PRFJC vs. FSSAI

July 28: A judgement by the Honourable High Court in Mumbai against FSSAI in a case filed by Pernod Ricard for Jacobs Creek will not only take Indians’ faith in our legal system a couple of notches higher, but would also discourage it from telling the importers to go to court if they were unhappy with its decisions, banking on the backlog in the judicial system and unwillingness of small importers to fight the system in court

A few months ago, a small but sincere importer who is very passionate about wine came to me, totally frustrated with the attitude of FSSAI. Crying on my shoulder, he told me that one of his shipments had to go back as it was rejected on the ground of label rejection-after a shipment with similar labels had been passed by another inspector.

I suggested to him to meet one of the senior persons who might be more sympathetic. He told me he did go to a senior official whom he requested that the department should give a standard label format that the importer could send to the foreign producer and tell him to make it exactly to that specification. The reply he gave him was, ‘we have no time to do it and this is not our job.’ When the importer tried to reason with him with more conviction he was told to go and file a case in the court.

I didn’t quite believe his story but he had no reason to lie to me or exaggerate. One day some enterprising journalists will sure pen a book or two, listing the cases FSSAI lost vs. those they won in the ongoing saga of rejections that the importers claim are not based on any scientific data or any logic.  The case of Pernod Ricard for Jacobs Creek vs. FSSAI would have to be an important chapter.

India’s largest selling imported wine brand moved the Honourable High Court against the import ban on a shipment which the food safety regulator FSSAI said contained Tartaric acid. On Tuesday, the Bombay high court bench of Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawalla allowed the petition filed by Pernod Ricard India which imports the wine, and disposed of the matter, according to TOI. The company had challenged the rejection of lack of no objection certificate (NOC) from Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) for a shipment of Jacob’s Creek wine bottles. Prosecution lawyer Iqbal Chagla, counsel for Pernod, which also distributes some other leading international brands, said, "Tartaric acid is not a prohibited additive under the regulations." He said the shipment has been lying at the Mumbai docks since last October or November when the NOC was refused. He said for the last ten years, the wine has been imported without a hitch and added that tartaric acid is found even in fruit juices.

Mehmood Pracha, counsel for FSSAI argued that samples of the shipment when tested, as part of legal safety requirement, were found to contain tartaric acid which is not permitted in proprietary food.

FSSAI’s stand had caused embarrassment for those Indians visiting overseas wine producing areas. It also created a sword of insecurity for the domestic producers using it as an additive. Not only is it allowed to be naturally present, it may be added by warmer regions even in India to augment the lower acidity. It is one of the approved products that are allowed into wines in most appellations.

Subhash Arora

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Tag : Mumbai, FSSAI, Pernod Ricard, Jacobs Creek, V M Kanade, B P Colabawalla, Iqbal Chagla, Mehmood Pracha


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