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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why huge price difference between same ISI Marked Products under different brand names ?

How shelf life of food products is certified ? 

On 26 November 2012, I had sent following e-mail to the firm marketing the product, WRO, DDGW, Secretary (CA). As no body replied, I sent a reminder on 14 December 2012.

"Recently I purchased a 500 ml PET bottle of Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) at Cafe Coffee Day in New Delhi. This PDW has been manufactured by Om Shanti Agro Industries, Dhule (Maharashtra) under their BIS License No. CM/L- 7699108 under brand name Coffee Day.

I have two queries which I hope you will answer in a pro-active manner:
1) The price charged is Rs. 15 for 500 ml whereas other manufacturers are charging Rs. 12 for 1000 ml. PDW under all these brands are marked with ISI Mark as per IS 14543. Why this difference in price?
2) You have specified shelf life of PDW as "Best Before 6 months From DOM". On what basis this shelf life has been specified? Were any shelf life studies were done and if yes then please inform the details of these studies.

Will you please enlighten me on above queries?

I am marking this e-mail to WRO BIS also for enlightening me on above queries and Secretary (CA) for appropriate action.

WRO may please inform me the results of tests carried on shelf life by the licensee and by BIS on factory and market samples derawn by BIS. Please also inform if BIS also has any role to play in fixing the price of ISI Marked products. After all BIS is under Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Recently Secretary (CA) addressing the gathering on Vigilance Awareness Week organized by BIS in New Delhi emphasized the need to build up confidence of the common consumers in BIS certified products which are procured/purchased commonly by the organized consumers as well as common consumers (TOI of 6th November 2012).

Secretary (CA)
This matter relates to the interest of consumers. Please take necessary action on the feedback as you consider appropriate."

You are all aware that BIS is under administrative control of Department of Consumer Affairs. I think the marketing firm, BIS and controlling ministry should  answer these queries. As a consumer it is my right and I hope that this right has not been put in abeyance as I was compulsorily retired from BIS and is in the habit of sending complaints against wrong doings of BIS top management.

Note - If anybody in BIS or elsewhere finds anything defamatory in this post/comments, he or she is welcome to bring it to my notice for needed modification or deletion.

Monday, August 08, 2011

ISI Mark - Has it become a tool for cheating consumer

Part IV - Bad quality ISI Mark CFL 

In my last post, I wrote about how packaged drinking water is being marketed without testing by BIS licensees under its compulsory ISI Mark scheme.  Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) is yet another product where consumer is being cheated by licensees behind false claims of BIS about ISI Mark. Like drinking water CFL is also under mandatory certification by BIS.

BIS has so far granted 57 licenses for CFL and earns a minimum of Rs. 85 lakhs every year. Consumers pay a very high price for these CFL, but what they get in return? Let me show this by my personal experience.

I bought 2 CFL of 5W and 8W of HPL brand and one CFL of 15W of Havells brand. As per manufacturers’ declaration the life of these CFL should have been 4 years @ of 4 hrs/day, but one HPL CFL failed within a year itself (manufactured in Nov 10’), other HPL CFL failed within 2 years (manufactured in June 09’) and Havells CFL failed in a year (purchased in July 10’). The usage was not more than 3 hrs/day in case of all three CFL.

Four more CFL of other brands are in use in my house. I am watching their performance.

I invite you to share your experience. 

ISI Mark - Has it become a tool for cheating consumer

Part III - Packaged drinking water in 250 ml PP Glasses

Today in a family  function, guests were served packageddrinking water in 250 ml PP Glasses. Click on the image to see the marking details. Batch No, and Packing Date are not marked. I checked thecardboard carton also. It was blank, no information printed.

Is this the way licensees are allowed to market PDW with ISI Mark?

Manufacturer has declared shelf life as 90 days from date of manufacturing. WHICH DATE OF MANUFACTURING? Also, had BIS ever checked and verified this shelf life as declared by the manufacturer?

I also visited BIS Website. Variety covered (at S. No. 36 of List of Licensees for Delhi) - 20 litre PET Jar. When I clicked on this a page was opened where variety covered is litre PET Jar and 250 ml PP GlassesWhich is correct? 

No batch No., no Packing date, this is how manufacturers market drinking water with ISI Mark without testing and hide production to save on MF. BIS officers take bribe and turn a blind eye. The are not even bothered that such untested drinking water is a health hazard for consumers. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ISI Mark – Has it become a Tool For Cheating Consumer

Part II Packaged Drinking Water

Govt. of India has made ISI Marking mandatory for Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) for safety and health of consumers. In this part I will demonstrate if ISI mark is ensuring the quality of PDW or is cheating the consumer.

As per GOI order, PDW should conform to Indian Standard, IS 14543. The STI prescribed for this by BIS is Doc: STI/14543/6, August 2005 as per IS 14543: 2005 with 2 amendments. Let us find out how BIS ensures compliance of following requirements of STI:
Clause 1.0 LABORATORY- A laboratory shall be maintained, which shall be suitably equipped and staffed, where different tests given in the specification shall be carried out in accordance with the methods given in the specification. AND
Clause 13.0 STOP MARKING - The marking of the product shall be stopped under intimation to the Bureau if, at any time, there is some difficulty in maintaining the conformity of the product to the specification, or the testing equipment goes out of order. The marking may be resumed as soon as the defects are removed under intimation to BIS.

In December 2009, Vigilance department of BIS carried out raids on three licensees of PDW in Mumbai. During this raid following serious discrepancies amongst others were found:
a)       QC in-charge, responsible for testing of PDW, was found incompetent.
b)      Some testing equipment were found missing and some were found faulty.
c)       Test records were maintained without doing actual testing.
d)      PDW dispatched in the market without testing.

After the raids, local BIS office was informed and routine actions were taken. Licensees were advised to stop marking, they took corrective actions which were verified by local office and self-marking rights were restored.

Now let us see, what was not checked and how consumer was cheated.

It was clear that Packaged Drinking Water was sent in the market without testing but BIS officers did not check from which date it was being marketed without testing. They did not advise the licensees to immediately withdraw all Packaged Drinking Water available in the market. They did not advise the licensee to issue a notice in the media that consumers should not buy and consume Packaged Drinking Water of their brands as the same was not tested. Inspite of knowing it that Packaged Drinking Water available in the market (of these brands) could cause health problems to consumers as it has not been tested, BIS officers did not take any corrective and preventive action.

Under clause 13.0 of STI, licensees were required to stop marking on their own and inform BIS about it, but they did not comply with this statutory requirement. BIS officers also failed to record this serious discrepancy and did not seek licensees’ explanation on this. This is one requirement which is not checked in any BIS inspection and consumer, unknown of the potential health hazard, is left to consume hazardous ISI marked products. If this is not cheating and stabbing the consumer in the back then what else will constitute cheating and stabbing in back?

Were these BIS officers incompetent or they intentionally failed to protect consumer interest for some favour from the licensees. I have posted these “cheat the consumer” real stories of BIS on my blog MANAK. If you want to read the details then click on the following links:

Unit 1                Unit 2                Unit 3

ISI Mark – Has it become a Tool For Cheating Consumer

Part I Introduction

In my earlier post, ISI Mark – Symbol of ‘Quality’ or ‘Cheating’? - I submitted that ISI Mark is no more seen as a symbol of quality by majority of consumers. Confidence generated in ISI Mark in last 50 plus years is being misused by BIS licensees to cheat the consumer. Statutory provisions of BIS Certification Regulations are being openly violated by a management indifferent to consumer interest. Number of complaints have been sent to BIS vigilance department, number of articles have been posted on my blog MANAK, number of RTI applications have been filed, but it could not make any dent in corruption apparatus. Has BIS created a national standard for administrative corruption. Those involved in corruption openly say that no body can do anything against them.

On its website, BIS makes tall claims - The BIS Product certification Scheme operates in an impartial, non discriminatory and transparent manner. The documents stating the powers, rights and responsibilities of BIS and the affected sectors of society are published by the Government of India as the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986, Rules and (Certification) Regulations, 1988.  The specific procedure for operating a license are given in another document called the Scheme of Testing and Inspection (STI). Procedures provide for maintaining a very high degree of confidentiality and integrity among its personnel who perform certification related tasks. A body called the ' Certification Advisory Committee (CAC)' composed of persons from varied sectors like manufacturers, consumers, Government agencies, industries associations reviews the performance of the scheme and advises on key policy issues. Internally, a senior functionary designated as 'Additional Director General (Marks)' (ADGM) is responsible for ensuring that the scheme operates within the framework of rules and procedures established.

Anybody associated with BIS will have no hesitation is saying that all above claims are false. Impartiality, non-discrimination and transparency have lost their meaning in greed and corruption. Statutory provisions of Certification Regulations and STI are violated openly in connivance with licensees. Words like confidentiality and integrity have long been removed from BIS dictionary. CAC has not met for long. For ADGM certification is a foreign word. His only contribution to BIS is that he is always ready with his bags packed to proceed on pleasure trips in India and abroad.

In my subsequent parts I will deal with how consumers are being cheated.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ISI Mark – Symbol of ‘Quality’ or ‘Cheating’?

You must have seen a mark on various products you use and which is popularly known as ISI Mark. As per the information available on the website of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), presence of this mark on a product is an assurance of conformity to the specifications. Use of this mark is allowed to product manufacturers (licensees) under Product Certification Scheme of BIS which aims at providing Third Party Guarantee of quality, safety and reliability of products to the ultimate customer (consumer). The conformity is ensured by regular surveillance of the licensee's performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn both from the factory and market. Click here to read details on BIS website.

When BIS's predecessor, the Indian Standards Institution (ISI) began operating this product certification Scheme in 1955, this concept was unknown to Indian consumer. With hard and sincere work put in by ISI officers and staff, the concept started gaining confidence of Indian consumer, and soon ISI Mark became a household name. The mark became a symbol of quality both for individual consumers and bulk buyers.

In 1986, ISI became BIS through a legislative Act of the Indian Parliament, known as the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986, With change in name, entire culture of ISI changed. It became a pleasure ground of IAS officers who changed its character from a S&T organization to a bureaucratic organization. Today three top positions of BIS are occupied by IAS. Head of vigilance department is also an IAS. Efforts are on way to post IAS officers in regions also.

A Joint Parliamentary Committee was constituted by the Parliament on 22.08.2003 on Pesticide Residues in and Safety Standards for Soft Drinks, Fruit Juice and Other Beverages, under the Chairmanship of Sharad Pawar. One of the recommendations of JPC was that BIS should be headed by an eminent scientist who can infuse dynamism in its working. As the fate would have it, Sharad Pawar became Minister of Consumer Affairs in the next government and in that capacity became President of BIS. It was most unfortunate that as JPC Chairman, he had recommended that BIS should be headed by an eminent scientist but as BIS President he did not implement his own recommendation. After becoming President BIS, he started sending IAS officers as DG BIS and soon BIS top was packed with IAS officers.

For majority of consumers, ISI mark is no more a symbol of quality. They are least bothered whether the product he is buying is marked with ISI Mark or not. There is a joke –
Consumer 1 asked Consumer 2, ‘do you use ISI Marked products?’
'No', replied Consumer 2.
‘You must have worked in BIS’, observed Consumer 1. 

Through ISI Mark scheme, third party guarantee of quality, safety and reliability of products and their conformity to standards is claimed to be ensured by regular surveillance of the licensee's performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn both from the factory and market. As per Certification Regulations, minimum two surprise inspections should be carried out. In each inspection, minimum one sample should be tested in factory and minimum one sample should be drawn from factory for testing in an independent laboratory. In addition, after each inspection, minimum one sample should be drawn from market for testing in an independent laboratory.

I filed a RTI with BIS to provide information about 30 licenses of electric cables in Delhi and audited the information provided. Here are the findings of the audit:
a) No inspection was done in the whole year in case of 12 licenses.
b) Only one inspection was done in the whole year in case of 16 licenses.
c) Two inspections were done in the whole year in case of only 2 licenses.
d) Only 14 samples were tested in the factory against minimum 60 samples.
e) Only 13 samples were taken from the factory for independent testing against minimum 60 samples.
f) Only 3 samples were procured from the market for independent testing against minimum 60 samples.

How BIS can guarantee the quality of ISI marked products with above 'almost nil' monitoring? Required numbers of inspections are not carried out and also required numbers of samples are not tested. If it is not cheating then what else?  

For details of the above audit you can click on the following links:

Citizen Audit of BIS Product Certification (ISI Mark) Scheme 

No of inspections 

Testing of ISImarked products

Thursday, May 12, 2011

NABH Accreditation – The Bitter Reality

Today I had the taste of a NABH Accredited hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. The taste was bitter, very-very bitter. The hospital is also ISO 9001 certified by TUV.

My wife has not been keeping well for some time. I wanted to get some expert medial opinion on this. A friend suggested Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. I took an appointment in Private OPD. It gave me first taste of the quality of service provided by this hospital. I rang up reception. I was told to call a number to get the appointment. I called this number but I was given another number. I called it but I was told to call the earlier number. I became impatient. I called the earlier number and demanded to know, what the hell is going on. This time I was given the appointment. I was asked to come and see the doctor between 1030 AM to 1200 PM. As our number was 14, we reached the hospital at 1105 AM. The doctor had just come and patient number 1 was still waiting outside.

The scene was worst than the general OPD. The place was choked with people. There were four doctors’ cabins but only seven seats. All other patients and their attendants were sanding. This was private OPD where patients are charged consultation fee of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000.

A tough looking guy will occasionally come out of the cabin with a piece of paper in his hand; will utter some name which no body will understand. People will crowd around him and ask him which number has gone in. He will not reply and go back in. He was in tight shirt and jeans. He has forgotten to shave for last 2-3 days. I took him for a gym instructor but somebody told me that he was the hospital guy. No uniform, no ID card, no name badge.

Patients with prior appointment were treated like intruders. But those who had no appointment but knew some hospital guy were freely going in and getting consultation.

At 1200 PM sharp another hospital guy came and removed the nameplate of the doctor and inserted nameplate of the doctor. On asking I was told that the time slot for this doctor to sit in this cabin is over; and now another doctor will sit here. ‘What about these waiting patients?’, I asked and was told that this doctor will see patient in another cabin. He gave the right information.

After sometime the doctor came out and asked which cabin he can use? He was told of a cabin and he went in. All patients rushed towards that cabin. The duty of that tough looking guy was over. He was replaced by a girl, again not in hospital uniform. By this time many patients have become impatient. There was some pushing also.

We had to take a tough stand to secure our turn. We went in and consulted the doctor, took the address of his private clinic and came home. The doctor did not give the prescription on hospital letterhead but on his personal letterhead. Doctor was also not in hospital uniform.

Is this the quality of service being provided by NABH accredited hospitals? I will like NABH to answer this. I will also like TUV to answer this.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poison In Colgate tooth Paste !!!

This American COMPANY is Making fool of INDIANS!!!

Watch the video and listen very carefully.
As per Drugs and Cosmetics Act, tooth paste should conform to the requirements of Indian Standard but you will not find any reference to this on any tooth paste.
Indian Dental Association has allowed this company to use IDA Seal on tooth paste. IDA Seal of Acceptance is a registered certification mark of the Indian Dental Association.I have studied the information given on IDA official website. I am surprised that IDA does not carry out any tests on the tooth paste to certify the quality. I am approaching IDA, Drug ontroller and Colgate Toorg Paste Manufacturer. Whatever information I get I will it on this blog. In the maentime consult your dentists. It is advisable not to take any chance. 

Last year I have written a post on IDA and Product Certification. CLICK TO READ.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Appeal - fast with Anna hazare

Watch this video till the end. Listen to what your children say.

Fast with Anna Hazare, at jantar Mantar, in your office, at your home, wherever you are on 5th April 2011.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Message from Dr Kiran Bedi

Anna Hazare is starting indefinite fast at 10 AM on 5th April 2011 at Jantar Mantar. This is a second freedom movement to free India of corruption. Join it and become a Freedom Fighter.