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Gutkha provides govt with food for thought

An observation by the Supreme Court that gutkha is food has set off a tussle between the Health Ministry and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India over regulating the product. The FSSAI wants gutkha banned but the ministry would rather have the former laying down food safety standards for the product.

Gutkha is believed responsible for 90 per cent of oral cancers in India; the industry is worth an estimated Rs 8,000 crore. In a case earlier this year concerning its packaging, the Supreme Court observed that since pan masala, gutkha or supari are eaten for taste and nourishment, they are all food within the meaning of Section 2(v) of the PFA Act.

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