TTD bans FSSAI from entering premises to certify Tirupati laddu

Hyderabad,Dec13:The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which makes the famed ‘Tirupati Laddu’, is faced with a demand to get it certified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

But the TTD is not open to the idea of inspectors walking into its kitchens, and the ‘laddu’ being treated as food under law. It has denied permission for an inspection, on the ground that the ‘potu’ where the ‘laddus’ are made is an auspicious place to which outsiders are not admitted.

The  FSSAI has asked the Devasthanam to obtain a food safety licence like any other Food Business Operator. The tussle began with a Right to Information Act query filed by Bengaluru-based T. Narasimhamurthy, with FSSAI asking whether the TTD was adhering to food safety norms in the preparation of ‘laddus’.

Suneeti Toteja, director, Food Safety Management System (FSMS), wrote to Commissioner of Food Safety, Andhra Pradesh, stating that the ‘laddu’ is food as defined under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

“The applicability of the Act is not affected whether the food is purchased or distributed free of cost. TTD therefore has to obtain a licence and fulfil all responsibilities of an FBO as stipulated in Section 23 of the FSS Act,” the letter said.

The RTI applicant had filed a complaint with FSSAI in July alleging that the laddus were made in an unhygienic manner.

“The deficiencies are noticed at every stage, including manufacture, storage, distribution and sale. Materials such as bolts, nuts, key chains and gutka covers have been found in the laddus,” he claimed.

The FSSAI Act states that only those with clean clothes and without infections shall be involved in the manufacture and packing of food items, the petitioner argued . “Regular reports on the health condition of the cooks should be submitted…and a fitness certificate obtained,” he said, adding that purchasers should be given a bill. The packaging should carry details of ingredients and date of manufacture and expiry.

After getting the RTI application, the Joint Food Controller and other officers, including the food inspector, contacted the TTD to inspect the ‘potu’ (kitchen).

The Director of Public Health Labs and Food Administration, Andhra Pradesh, wrote to Mr. Narasimhamurthy, stating that the TTD officer had claimed the ‘laddus’ could not be defined as food as they are holy and pilgrims were not consumers.

“After discussion with the TTD Executive Officer, a reply will be submitted regarding inspection of the premises and obtaining FSSAI licence,” the letter said. Necessary action would be taken after the Commissioner of Food Safety issues orders.

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