Balasore: An exclusive investigation by OTV revealed gross violation of food quality standards and blatant adulteration in one of the most widely used food condiment, tomato ketchup.
The visuals, possessed by OTV, of the detailed tomato sauce production process at a food processing unit named Coastal Food Products at Nijampur in Kamarda of Balasore district have exposed some uncomfortable truths about the tasty condiment that we love to consume.
The company has been using pumpkins in place of tomatoes as the main ingredient in production of tomato sauce. Not only that, after vegetables are first boiled, different kind of industrial colours and appropriate flavours are mixed and then it is ground to a paste and packed into bottles as tomato sauce.
Not only this, the food processing unit has been making chilli, tomato sauce, pickles and supplying to the markets in Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Balasore and some parts of West Bengal under the brand names TopUp and TopPro.
Moreover, in order to bypass inspection authorities, the company has been tagging the products at a higher price but sells it at even lower than half of the quoted price.
Upon investigation, it has been found that the company does not come under the purview of Public Health department.
On being inquired, owner of the company, Bijay Kumaar Pradhan said ingredients like pumpkin pulp, green chilli paste and some colours are generally used in the sauce.
"We have printed 'continental' on the bottle and also supply the products at a lower rate since other big companies have been operating in the state. Since we have to survive, we have been using the method for quite some time without facing any problems," Pradhan said.
While people are generally unaware about the adulteration and generally love to consume the tasty sauce, shopkeepers selling them are rather unapologetic about it.
"If people object then we would stop serving but since the business is going well and it is freely sold in the market, we are using it," a shopkeeper said.
On the other hand, district health officials said stringent action would be taken against the company for fooling people and supplying sub-standard food items.
"With the matter coming to light we have found that the company has been fooling people by supplying pumpkin pulp in the name of tomato sauce and since it is a case of adulteration we have taken the matter seriously and decided to initiate legal proceedings against the company," District Public Health Officer, Charubala Ratha said.
Meanwhile, health experts have urged people to refrain from using such sauce as much as possible.
"Due to use of pumpkin there are chances of gastric disorders, stomach distension and digestive problems in case of kids. If used on continuous basis then it could lead to liver disorders and subsequently pose serious threats like liver infection & Cirrhosis," Medicine Specialist, Susant Kumar Nayak said.