In a scam that the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspects to be operational on a larger scale and in multiple cities, spurious, unlicensed cosmetics products were found being sold to salons and beauty parlours, for use on customers, under branded labels. In Nagpur, a first information report (FIR) has been filed against four locals from Agra found refilling empty bottles of branded cosmetics with locally manufactured cosmetics and selling them to beauty parlours. “We have registered a case under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the Indian Penal Code,” said Mohan Kekatpure, FDA Joint Commissioner (drugs) in Nagpur.
According to FDA officials, the four accused purchased empty shampoo and conditioner bottles of products such as Pantene, Himalaya, L’Oreal, Head and Shoulders and Sunsilk from scrap dealers. In Bajeria area of Nagpur, they manufactured cosmetics without licence, and refilled the bottles which were later distributed to several beauty parlours and salons. Kekatpure added that investigations are on to understand whether beauty parlours knowingly purchased the spurious cosmetics.
FDA officials also raided four beauty parlours in Pune. Investigations showed that in one of them, Bharat Beauty Centre, stock of rosewood oil and fennel seed oil had no licence number. “Dombivli-based MM Products repacked the bottles and Manan Distributors in Thane manufactured them. We raided the entire distribution chain,” said FDA assistant commissioner Nitin Devre.
FDA drug inspectors found that rosewood and fennel seeds oil was marketed by Dr Jain Forest Herbal Pvt Ltd in Dadar. Raids were carried out in Dombivli and Thane where MM Products and Manan Distributors are based. Cosmetics and ayurvedic products, along with machinery worth Rs 28 lakhs, were seized from the manufacturing unit of Manan Distributors. “Manan Distributors was manufacturing spurious cosmetics products without licence. An FIR is yet to be registered but investigation is on,” Devre added.
“People who go to parlours never come to know whether there is spurious cosmetics in branded bottles,” said FDA Commissioner Pallavi Darade. A similar raid was conducted in Vile Parle in Mumbai in September where an unlicenced cosmetics manufacturing unit was running under the guise of a pet store. Mumbai drug inspectors seized stock worth Rs 18 lakh from the unit. The accused was found to be purchasing empty branded cosmetic bottles and refilling them with spurious cosmetics. The Vile Parle unit had also used L’Oreal Professional Paris product labels and empty bottles that were bought from salons. “We suspect that parlours may be working in connivance with these manufacturers and distributors,” Darade said.
An FIR in the Vile Parle case was filed at Juhu police station. Drug inspectors claimed several such rackets operate locally. “They are mostly inter-connected. When we raid one premise, the chain of distributors and manufacturers in other cities comes out in open,” the drug inspector said.