‘News’ on Aachi masala getting banned in Kerala: Here’s what really happened
For the last few days, social media has been abuzz with a fresh controversy – on the quality standards maintained by Chennai-based Aachi Group, a company that produces masalas and spices. Debate first erupted when Tamil newspapers reported that Kerala had banned the sale and distribution of Aachi products due to high levels of pesticide content found in them.
Soon enough, several users demanded a complete ban on Aachi masalas in Tamil Nadu while others nicknamed the brand ‘poochi’ masala, which translates to insects in Tamil. Quite a few users, however stood in staunch support of the brand tweeting ‘I stand with Aachi’.
The controversy took on a communal tone as Aachi’s Group’s founder Pasmasingh Isaac – a Christian hailing from Nazareth in Tirunelveli – was specifically targeted in the discussions.
“The founder of Aachi masala, Mr Isaac, is the main kingpin of the Tamil Nadu conversion mafia. Luckily Kerala government banned its products due to high amount of chemicals. #boycottaachimasala,” a tweet read.
As the news spread, a few came out in support of the company. “Remember sanghis are always behind any Anti-Tamil misinformation campaign!,” one user tweeted. Another said, “Stop believing rumors spread by BJP and H Raja. Aachi’s CEO has come up and gave an explanation on this issue.”
Meanwhile, the company published a statement in a local newspaper claiming that the group’s products have not been banned in Kerala.
“There is fake news being deliberately spread in news mediums and social media that our products were banned in Kerala by the Food Safety Department after excessive medicine. This is completely false. All Aachi Masala products do not compromise on quality and are made to uphold culture of Tamilians. We are ready to face tests on our products anywhere in India,” the statement said.
However, TNM found that the truth lay somewhere in between. A June 2019 batch of Aachi’s chilli powder failed to pass the food safety test and was subsequently banned in Thrissur in September. The samples of the specific batch were tested in the Regional Analytical laboratory in Kakkad where it showed pesticide content to be above 1 gram per kg- exceeding the permissible limit.
“The maximum limit for pesticide content is 0.01 mg per kilogram. In this specific batch – titled FDGMS and manufactured in June 2019, we found the content to be above 1 gram and hence banned in Thrissur. The company can appeal at the Central Food Laboratory in Bengaluru or other centres to challenge the ban,” Assistant Food Commissioner of Thrissur Janardhanan told TNM.
While the ban applies to the specific batch, all of the brand’s other products and batches of chili powder continue to remain in circulation and available for sale in stores, the Assistant Commissioner clarified.
Aachi masala’s representative told TNM that the group had re-tested the samples and alleged that the Thrissur ban was wrong.
“Last week, a certain batch of our products was found to have excess pesticide content by local authorities in Thrissur. Following this, we have tested in a government approved laboratory in Pune which showed that the finding was wrong. We have the results to prove this as well,” says Nagarajan, a representative of the brand.
The Aachi group was founded in 1995 in Chennai by Dr Padmasingh Isaac, a businessman hailing from Tirunelveli. Over the years, the group’s masalas and other food products have gained massive popularity in Tamil Nadu and across India.
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