The government of Maharashtra in western India has ordered fresh hygiene checks at the warehouses of the Subhiksha discount retail chain in the state capital of Mumbai. This follows complaints of continued violation of regulations.
The issue was raised in the state Legislative Council on Saturday by the leader of the opposition Pandurang Phundkar. He demanded action against Subhiksha for not maintaining hygiene in packaged foods. He charged that it was repacking food items although it did not have a licence to do so.
Responding, Baba Siddiqui, Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies and Drug Administration, said the FDA had earlier temporarily cancelled the store's licence on two separate occasions - from March 1-10 and June 23-27 - for not complying with hygiene regulations in the food packaging area within its warehouses.
In its report, the FDA said its team had found foodstuffs lying on the floor amid dirt, dust and spit, which posed a serious public health hazard.
But apparently the problem has not been addressed to by the chain.
The minister later told reporters that that there was no ban on Subhiksha stores.
Only an inquiry was already pending with the FDA Commissioner and that would be completed in 10 days time, he said.
Reacting to the development, Mohit Khattar, President-Marketing, Subhiksha, said: "No notice of suspension or cancellation has been served against any Subhiksha outlet and all media reports in this regard are completely inaccurate."
Subhiksha, which started as a single store entity in Chennai 11 years ago, now has over 1,000 outlets in 90 cities spread in nine states, making it one of the biggest retail supermarkets in India.