New Delhi: Kolkata-based Central Food Lab and Yoga guru Baba Ramdev have a deep connection. It was this lab only which found Nestle’s Maggi noodles unfit for consumption in June 2015 and played a role in Ramdev entering packaged food category. But the same lab has now dealt a severe blow to Ramdev by declaring that Patanjali Ayurved’s popular Amla juice was unfit for consumption.
In a major setback for Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved, the defence Canteen Stores Department (CSD) declared the popular Amla juice as ‘unfit for consumption’ following the test reports. Amla Juice, which was one of Patanjali’s first consumer launches, is primarily used by diabetics to keep their sugar under control. Patanjali’s Amla Juice helped the company establish its credentials in the consumer business segment.
An unfavourable test report by the Central Food Lab has led the CSD to suspend sales of Patanjali’s Amla juice, the Economic Times reported on Monday. The CSD, in a letter dated April 3, 2017, asked all depots to make debit notes for their existing stock so that the Amla Juice can be sent back to Patanjali. It was the same lab where Maggi noodles was found to contain high Lead and MSG levels and forced Nestle to withdraw the product from the Indian market. This helped Ramdev launch his Noodle and Pasta products, marking its entry into packaged food category. However, Nestle managed to get Maggi back in the market after a long legal battle.
The Rs 5,000-crore Ayurved Company, Patanjali Ayurved was earlier pulled up by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for selling noodles and pasta without the requisite licences even though Patanjali Atta Noodles packets display an “FSSAI licence number”. As per information available with FSSAI’s Food Licensing and Registration System, the licence issued to Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, Patanjali Food and Herbal Park is for manufacturing a range of products, not including noodles, Indian Express reported.
However, Baba Ramdev refuted all the charges and maintained they have all the permissions.
FSSAI demanded an explanation on how could the company sell atta noodles brand without obtaining mandatory approvals. While Patanjali cited its licence to manufacture pasta, Ramdev had said there was “some confusion” that would be resolved. The company had also faced flak from the FSSAI over the allegedly misleading advertisements for its edible-oil products.
Patanjali, which is run by yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna, an Ayurveda expert reached Rs 20 billion mark in 2015. In December 2016, Patanjali was found guilty of misbranding its products. A local court in Haridwar had slapped the five production units of Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved with a fine of Rs 11 lakh for “misbranding and putting up misleading advertisements” of their products. The court said that Patanjali Ayurved was found guilty of misbranding as the products being shown by the company as produced at its own units were in fact manufactured somewhere else. The products were found to be in violation of sections 52-53 of food security norms and section 23.1 (5) of food safety and standard (packaging and labelling) regulation.
In November 2016, Patanjali had made news in another controversy where a PIL was filed in Gujarat high court seeking a ban on the sale of shilajeet. Shilajeet was a product claimed to enhance sexual prowess, by Patanjali brand. The petitioner Aditya Rawal who belongs to Vishwa Hindustani Sangathan, had filed the PIL taking exception on the ground that selling a product like shilajeet under the brand name of Patanjali, who is a very revered saint of Hindus, hurts religious sentiments.
Many of Patanjali’s products like ghee was being labelled adulterated, its noodle packets in Haryana contained insects and its Desi Ghee bottles from Dehradun were reported to have fungus. Patanjali’s honey is alleged is made of ‘litchi’ juice and has only five per cent honey in it, while the mustard oil is actually produced by Jaipur-based oil manufacturer, News agency HillPost reported. The report also stated that the gram flour packet label contains the word ‘arogya’ on the label which is not allowed as per law while the black pepper packet also has the word ‘arogya’ on it and the nutritional value of the produce is not mentioned.
In the recent Brand Trust Report 2017 by TRA Research, Patanjali has leapt from 173 ranks to the 15 position which speaks volumes about Ramdev’s business unit which remained in news for all the wrong reasons. There have been reports citing samples of Patanjali products consisting cow urine and being of low quality. Patanjali’s annual turnover for the year 2014-15 increased to Rs 2500 crore. Its previous turnovers of Rs 1200 crore in 2013-14, Rs 850 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 450 crore in 2011-12.