Closely monitoring online food businesses, says Maharashtra FDA commissioner

Answer: Ben and Jerry’s - On May 5, 1978, Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen opened the first Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop in a converted gas station in Burlington, Vermont. (Image: Reuters)+

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is keeping a close watch on online food businesses and has taken several steps to ensure compliance in the state of Maharashtra, said the state’s FDA Commissioner Dr Pallavi Darade.

Darade, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, said, “In the last few months, we conducted raids at almost 350 outlets of online food delivery sources and found out that almost 112 of them are operating without licenses. Many of them are operating out of unhygienic places. We have filed 200 such cases against them. These actions would benefit the consumers in the long run.”

She was addressing CII’s Ice Cream Industry Conclave in Mumbai.

Darade said the Food Safety and Standard Act adopted in Maharashtra is at par with the global laws.

“In many cases, we take the lead, which is soon replicated by other states as well,” she pointed out.

She expects the Rs 15,000 crore ice cream industry to continue to grow at 15-20 percent.

She pointed out that the ice cream industry is coming of age and it is high time to deliberate on the dynamics, technology and scope for growth by the industry.

Devanshu Gandhi, Chairman of the CII Regional Task Force on Agriculture & Food and Managing Director, Vadilal Industries stated that despite the large population base, the Indian per capita consumption of ice cream is considered to one of the lowest with just 400 ml.

“Compare this with China at 3,000 ml and the US at 22,000 ml. However, with several favourable factors like affordability, increase in disposable income and booming middle class, this could soon change,” he said.

Gandhi said there is also a need for increasing the awareness of this sector. 

“The total advertising spends across various platforms is to the tune of Rs 60,000 crores, out of which the share of the FMCG sector is almost 30 percent. However, the ice cream industry spends less than Rs 200 crores in advertising for its products,” he said.

He also pointed out that ice creams are not considered in the same basket as the other dairy products like cheese and butter. 

“The ice cream industry is taxed higher. We have to pay GST at 18 percent while other dairy products are taxed at 12 percent,” he added.

The Indian ice cream industry employs 15 lakh people and is considered one of the largest employers of the dairy and food processing industry.