Maggi In The Cobweb Of Regulations

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Maggi, one of the most popular and successful products, has created history by maintaining its monopoly in the noodles market in India for more than 25 years. None of us can forget the 2 Minutes Maggi ads on television which tempts us to buy it. It has remained the favorite noodles for times not only for children but for adults too. The nationwide recall of one of the most popular product in the country is likely to become a case study in business schools.

 Nestle is facing its biggest crises as its main product Maggi is banned from 19 states in India. The three major violations by this product, which became the reason for banning it, are (a) presence of Lead detected in the product in excess of the maximum permissible levels of 2.5 ppm, (b) misleading labeling information on the package reading “No added MSG”, and (c) release of a non-standardized food product in the market, viz. “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” without risk assessment and grant of product approval.

The product is being tested by taking out the sample by the Commissioner of Food Safety, UP and by CFL, Kolkata and it was found out that it contains 17.2 ppm lead which is five times of the permissible limit which clearly violates Section 26 of Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.The report published by Food Safety Authority of Ireland on “Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Tin and Arsenic in Food” succinctly brings out the adverse toxic effect of lead on the human life.

As per the article published in the health column of a daily newspaper, the product faced allegations regarding the presence of lead in the content which has its hazardous fallouts like- “Short-term exposure to this extreme level of lead can cause brain damage, paralysis, anaemia and gas problems. Long-term exposure can damage the kidneys, reproductive and immune systems and also the nervous system of the body. The most critical effect of low-level lead exposure is on intellectual development in children and like mercury, lead also crosses the placental barrier and accumulates in the foetus. Infants and young children are more vulnerable than adults to the toxic effects of Lead. Even short-term low-level exposure of young children to lead is considered to have an effect on neurobehavioral development.”

The next allegation put forth by the FSSAI is that Maggi is misleading people by printing “No Added MSG” on its package. According to Food Corporation of India, MSG may occur naturally in the ingredients like tomatoes, cheese, extracted soya and yeast etc. Therefore, a company is not required to specifically mention the ingredients which contain natural MSG. But this doesn’t mean that an ingredient containing natural MSG can claim “No Added MSG” on its package. The company is not allowed to print “No Added MSG” on its package, if its product contains natural MSG. And the next allegation put forth by FSSAI is that Nestle has released a non-standardized food in the market without risk assessment and grant approval of the product.

The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, in exercise of its power vested under Section 16 and 18 of FSS Act, 2006, had directed the company to withdraw all 9 approved variants of its Maggi Instant Noodles from the Indian market after having been found unsafe and hazardous for human consumption. It has also directed the company to recall the label of “No Added MSG” from its package and furthermore it has directed the company to withdraw its food product for which approval is not being granted. Nestle is further called upon to show cause within a period of 15 days from the date of issue of notice by FSSAI regarding why the product approval should be given.

The most important factor for living a healthy life is to have a healthy intake which has minimal calories and low cholesterol. For living such a life one should sacrifice and eschew the consumption of junk food. Just because these foods are good in taste and can be prepared in few minutes, we should not overlook the importance of healthy food such as cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits etc. in our lives. The junk food contains a large amount of chemical substance and their consumption may increase our cholesterol level which is very harmful to our health. The amount of lead found in Maggi was five times the permissible limit which causes obesity, damages brain and liver of children because it is consumed more by children than  adults. Since the entry of packaged or junk food in the dietary habits of Indians, there have been some voices of concern against it, but they were tackled and swept under the carpet using the money power. Now, without any further delay, the so called “packaged fast food” items should be tested and immediately banned if any harmful ingredient is found in them beyond the permissible limit. The ban on Maggi would set the example for other products that they should improve their quality if they want to serve the nation in true sense.

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