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Food Safety officials plan drive against spurious cool drinks

Come summer, people flock towards one or the other of the numerous soft drinks lured by the ubiquitous commercials and a need to the beat the unbearable heat. This year, as the city faces a heat wave more intense than any in recent years, soft drinks sales are sure to go through the roof.

However, Food Safety Wing officials are urging the local populace to be cautious owing to the proliferation of spurious drinks being sold in the bottles of major soft drink brands.

A senior official told The Hindu here on Saturday that the Food Safety Wing would soon launch a drive against spurious drinks, mainly sold on roadside shops and eateries.

The public must remain vigilant even while consuming branded soft drinks in 500 ml/one/two litres PET bottles, as the shelf life was now only two-and-a-half month from the earlier six months. This change was effected after the Food Safety and Standards Act came into force. The shelf life for soft drinks sold in glass bottles, which are sterilised, was six months.

Most shopkeepers in rural areas failed to check the product for the expiry date, either by design or mostly because of negligence. However, under the FSSA, they were liable to face heavy fines and possible imprisonment for selling food products that had crossed the expiry date, the official added.

Major soft drink companies have been instructed to keep a close watch on their supply chain to prevent their bottles from being misused. They have also been told to watch out for decline in orders. This could indicate that retailers in that area were buying spurious drinks, which were cheaper, the officials said.

The public were also warned against consuming soft drinks sold in sachets, as they were likely to have been prepared in unhygienic conditions.

A senior official said that freshly-prepared juices were among the best options for people looking to stay healthy and dehydration.

The food safety wing took periodical samples of fruits, vegetables and soft drinks following a Supreme Court directive to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in October 2013.

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