Maggi noodles, one of the most popular snacks in the country, has been at the centre of controversy after the country’s food safety regulator ordered nationwide tests amid the mounting concerns over the brand’s ingredients.
A product of Nestle, Maggi noodles has served the Indian palettes for over 25 years. It is now facing a country-wide check after finding more than permissible levels of lead and mono sodium glutamate (MSG), a taste enhancer, in the samples. The controversy began when V K Pandey, a Barabanki-based officer in Uttar Pradesh Food Safety and Drug Administration tested the samples of Maggi noodles in a lab at Gorkahpur to determine whether Nestle India was complying with its stated claim that the product didn’t contain any MSG. But the amount of MSG was found to be much more than the prescribed level along with a dangerously high content of lead. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India then ordered the states to test the samples and submit reports.
Seven states have already banned the product and Delhi temporarily banned it for 15 days. The Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said that the action came after 10 out of 13 samples tested positive for an increased amount of lead and MSG with no proper declaration by the company and therefore were found to be unsafe to consume. States and Union Territories like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Odisha, Gujarat, Assam, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Karnataka have sent samples of Maggi noodles for testing. Kerala have also pulled back Maggi from over 2, 000 outlets of the Civil Supplies Corporation and grocery outlets. The Big Bazaar retail stores across the country and the Nilgiris have also banned the sale of Maggi products as in the military canteens which is appreciable. It is a setback to Nestle with 10 per cent of the company’s shares already collapsed. Despite all the counter statements by Nestle in their defense, the company couldn’t fully deny the reports revealing the presence of harmful substances in the brand products.
The Bihar Court has ordered registering an FIR against the celebrity brand ambassadors of Maggi for endorsing the product namely Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta along with the company’s top officials. The substances cause adverse effects such as headache, flushing and excessive sweating. Nestle India suffered another blow after live larvae and worms were found in the random samples of their milk powder for babies, tested in Coimbatore. The multinational companies target India which has a population of over 125 crore particularly the youngsters, identifying it as an emerging market in various sectors. These companies dupe the people mainly the middle class, into buying their products sold under different brands and names. Besides noodles, bakes and soft drinks are also being tested for safety standards. Substances that pose risks to health are often added to the products to attract more customers. The government as well as the people should tackle the issue with utmost seriousness and make efforts to create awareness among the people about the harmful effects of such products.