The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Maharashtra has found “Fair & Lovely advanced multivitamin expert fairness solution” cream to be substandard last week as it failed the “microbial limit tests” by a huge margin.
Fair and lovely is an extremely popular product of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). The test results were submitted by the analyst — who did these tests — to drug inspector as well as joint commissioner of FDA on March 27 for further action. “Microbial limit test” checks if the presence of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and mould in a sample is exceeding the limit or not.
According to Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the “total microbial count” and “yeast and mould count” must not be more than 1,000 colony forming units (CFU) per gram and 100 CFU per gram, respectively. However, in this sample of Fair & Lovely, the analyst found that it was 3,37,532.10 CFU per gram and 2,94,196.3 CFU per gram, respectively.
Maharashtra FDA commissioner Harshdeep Kamble told The Indian Express: “Now, we have got this report from the lab. This report has been sent to the concerned inspector. For every batch, there is a controlled sample that has been kept by the original company. So now, we will compare this (our sample) with the controlled sample. Then we would be in a position whether it is the same sample or it is a duplicate one. So, after that we will take action.” On being asked whether the FDA has asked the company for controlled sample, he said: “Yes. we have asked them for it. It is in process.”
However, the HUL company spokesperson told The Indian Express: “We have not received any notice from the FDA authorities and are not aware of any such development. We have robust internal checks and controls to ensure that our products meet the prescribed quality standards.” According to HUL’s 2015-16 annual report, Fair & Lovely is one of its six brands which have annual sales of more than Rs 2,000 crore in India. The sample of fair and lovely, which has been found to be having very high microbial count by Maharashtra FDA, was picked up from a cosmetics store in Bhoiwada lane of Mumbai.
Talking about the future course of action after comparing “controlled sample” to the sample that has been tested, Kamble said: “ There are two possibilities. One is that this is a fake sample. If it is a fake sample, then we will catch hold of the person from where this sample was collected. Then we will ask him for the records so as to know from where he has got it. We will trace it out to that end. This is one possibility. Second, if we find that this sample is originally from the company and it has been found not of standard, then we will take action against the company.”