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Central Information Commissioner Deepak Sandhu has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Ministry of Food Processing Industries as it was unable to disclose ingredients used in cola drinks, like Coca Cola and Pepsi. The information was sought through an application filed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
The application was filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal on November 17, 2008. He also sought to know whether it was compulsory for soft drink manufacturers to print the contents of the beverages on the labels. All answers to an RTI application ought to be made within a period of 30 days from the date of filing. The ministry sat on Agrawal's application for 18 months. The penalty amount, the maximum that can be imposed, would be recovered from the errant information officer.
The Central Information Commission forwarded the RTI application to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which reverted with its reply on July 7. According to FSSAI, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules of 1955, cola drinks or carbonated beverages are not exempt from declaring the ingredients on the label. Before March 19, 2009 listing of ingredients on bottles, which were to be reused or refilled, was exempted but they still had to list their nutritional information.
“The RTI Response has confirmed that both Food Safety & Standards Authority of India and Union Ministry of Food Processing have closed their eyes to the open violation of Prevention of Food adulteration Rules as cola companies have failed to print names of ingredients on their packs,” said Agrawal.
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