DORITOS WORM MYSTERY
FSSAI – Food Safety and Standards Authority of India takes responsibility of the safety standards to be followed by the manufactures to ensure hygiene, regulate and control proper standards in manufacturing, storing, distributing, sale and imports of the edibles and beverages for human consumption. The FSSAI Act was established in 2006. For any food business in India to operate, the business should make an application in FSSAI and post the approval and granting the license and certificate, the food will be considered safe for human consumption and fit for trade in the market.
Every unit, small or big should apply for food license. The process involves inspection of the material, the packaging and distribution to be tested and verified. This helps to protect the consumers from consuming harsh food or harmful food. They are checked for all the ingredients that go into the making of an item, like chemicals, preservatives, etc.
From consuming a candy to packed chips, every edible item has been through the scanner of the FSSAI. The authority has a network of many laboratories where a wide range of testing and analysis are done for approving the food item.
One could see the FSSAI mark and license number behind the pack of every packed food which is a valid proof that the edible item was marked safe for consumption.
THE DORITOS WORM MYSTERY
Now with all that being done, what if the consumer is subjected to distress when he opens a pack of his chips, not worrying about any adulteration, enjoys his bite of chips only to discover worms inside the pack? Let’s say the date of manufacturing was not more than 1 month prior from the date of consumption. The chips were perfectly packed, no space for any worm to get into the pack at any point of time. What if the consumer eats the worms along with the chips? What if he undergoes damage upon consumption of the chips along with the worm? In such case who is to be blamed? FSSAI- the authority who monitors whether the food is safe for consumption or the manufacturer who produces such food?
One such incident occurred, when I was devouring a pack of Doritos and happened to see live worms on the bottom of the packet to my horror. Just like anybody else would have been, I was thrilled and worried if I had eaten any of the worm along with a chip. The sight of the worm moving inside the pack was not just annoying but an alarming concern. I checked for the date of manufacturing which was only last month from the date of me consuming it. I reached out the company by various handles but in vain. I wonder if it was the responsibility of the company or the FSSAI since they are the one to approve the product safe for consumption. I had then tweeted tagging Pepsico India describing the incident, which was paid attention to, asking for more information which was given to them, after which there was no response. However, it needs to be brought to the knowledge that for claiming any compensation, there must be an injury or harm suffered by the consumer. I did not suffer any injury as such but I wanted to bring this issue to the notice of the manufacturers as that might enable them to take more caution in delivering to the consumers. Had that issue been taken seriously, the entire batch of that unit would have been checked and cancelled for sales.
DONOGHUE V. STEVENSON
This incident reminded me of the famous case law of Donoghue v. Stevenson,[i] where Ms. Donoghue had consumed ginger beer which contained a dead snail, making her sick. Court held that it was not the restaurant who will be held liable for such action because the product was not manufactured or produced by them. They were a mere intermediary to affect the sale of the product. It was held that it was the producer/manufacturer who was responsible for this was the because it is the producer’s duty to take reasonable care to avoid what can cause harm or injury to the consumer. This case law established a new principle known as the “neighbor principle”, meaning one ought to take reasonable care to avoid any action which may reasonably cause injury to the other person. Hence in this case, Stevenson, the manufacturer of the ginger beer was held liable for such negligence and harm caused to Donoghue.
REMEDIES IN INDIA
FSSAI Act, 2006 gives the consumer the authority to file a complaint against the manufacturer for the following issues
- Presence of worm or insects
- Sale of expired item
- Misleading, incorrect or incomplete information
- Inaccurate packing, etc.
- Wrong or incorrect labelling.
The consumer can file the complaint through the FSSAI developed platform called the Food Safety Voice about the harm caused to them or about the deficiency in the product. Upon auditing and vouching for the correctness of the complaint, the FSSAI has the power to cancel food license of the manufacturer along with a penalty. It is important the aggrieved consumer should file a complaint against such events to curb the repetition of such event securing the objective of consumer protection.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 also provides for remedies available to the aggrieved consumer by filing a case against the company, that is the manufacturer by submitting required information. One can submit the application
- to the district commission if the amount is not exceeding Rs. 1 crore,
- to the state commission if the amount is between Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 10 crores,
- to the national commission for amount exceeding Rs. 10 crores.
As consumers it is our right to raise voice against what is not acceptable when it comes to our safety, health and the money that goes into purchasing what we consume. We should be aware of our remedies that are legally enforceable when we are deprived of quality what we deserve. The above incident was an insight about an experience and the measures one can take to report such an event and seek remedy if any loss or damage has been suffered by the consumer. Even otherwise, it is always in the best interest to report any discrepancy or give feedback of such experience, so as to ensure to reduce the burden of suffering by other consumers, which may lead to drastic consequences. Hence it is necessary to be aware of our rights and protection against any dispute.
Author(s) Name: Sidharth R Mehta (Student, Bennett University, Greater Noida)
[i] DONOGHUE V. STEVENSON, https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/acts-and-rules/consumer-protection