Maha food regulator suspended McDonald's outlet's licence, now revokes it. Why? - Hindustan Times
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Maha food regulator suspended McDonald's outlet's licence, now revokes it. Why?

PTI | By
Feb 25, 2024 11:54 AM IST

Last October, the Maharashtra FDA had visited a McDonald's outlet in Ahilyanagar district (formerly Ahmednagar)

In a big relief to McDonald's, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked the suspension of license of the food giant's outlet in Ahilyanagar (formerly Ahmednagar), PTI reported.

The outlet had come under fire for allegedly using a ‘cheese-like’ product in the dishes without indicating that it was actually a cheese substitute. The McDonald's outlet was suspended after FDA inspection and objections. Recently it was revoked after the chain in a compliance report said it removed the word ‘cheese’ from product names.

Following an inspection and subsequent objections, the licence of the McDonald's outlet in Ahmednagar was suspended in 2023(File)
Following an inspection and subsequent objections, the licence of the McDonald's outlet in Ahmednagar was suspended in 2023(File)

“In October 2023, we visited the outlet in Kedgaon and discovered that the names of food items displayed at the outlet included American Cheese Burger, American Cheese Nuggets, Cheese Burger, Italian Cheesy Lava Burger, and Blueberry Cheese Cake. All these names are their brand names for their products," Rajendra Bade, a food safety official from FDA-Ahmednagar, told PTI.

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According to Bade, the FDA had found that instead of pure cheese, the outlet was using a cheese-like product. He said it is called a cheese analogue or substitute.

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"While pure cheese contains milk fat, the cheese analogue contains both milk fat and vegetable fat," he added.

On finding that the outlet's clarification was unsatisfactory, the FDA suspended its license in November.

"They appealed against the suspension before the FDA commissioner in Mumbai. The commissioner heard arguments from both sides and instructed the fast food restaurant chain that they cannot use the word ‘cheese’ in their product names if they are not using real cheese,” Bade added.

Abhimanyu Kale, the FDA commissioner, had directed McDonald’s to revise their labelling and prominently tag the products as “cheese analogue nuggets” or “non-dairy cheese nuggets” in a font size and colour that is easily visible and distinguishable from regular cheese products.

The order also required the outlet to list the ingredients on the packaging, ensuring that the terms cheese analogue or non-dairy cheese are prominently displayed.

The fast food giant was further told to keep customers informed about the use of cheese analogues in certain products through signage, handouts, and explanations regarding the reasons for using cheese analogues.

In their compliance report, Bade said, the American company said that they had amended the labels. “Upon receiving their compliance report, a decision was made to revoke the suspension, and they have been granted permission to resume business as before,” Bade said.

McDonald's renames food items

Hardcastle Restaurant, a subsidiary of Westlife Foodworld Ltd, which has the franchisee rights to own and operate McDonald's restaurants in west and south markets in India, said in its compliance report to the FDA that it had renamed certain products by removing the word 'cheese'.

It listed the items as Cheesy Nuggets (now Veg Nuggets), Mc Cheese Veg Burger (now Cheddar Delight Veg Burger), Mc Cheese Veg Non Veg Burger (Cheddar Delight Non-Veg Burger), Corn and Cheese Burger (American Veg Burger), Grilled Chicken and Cheese Burger (American Non Veg-Burger), Blueberry Cheese Cake (Blueberry Cake), Cheesy Italian Veg Burger (Italian Veg Burger) and Cheesy Italian Chicken Burger (now Italian Chicken Burger), the PTI report added.

Meanwhile, Hardcastle Restaurant said on Friday that it was engaging with the "competent authorities" in the FDA matter.

“We are actively engaging with the competent authorities on this issue and awaiting their final clarification. We have always been adhering to stringent food standards and are fully compliant with all applicable food laws,” said a statement from McDonald's India (West & South) shared on BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) by Westlife Foodworld.

(With PTI inputs)

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