The media got a yummy snack to eat last week, which is Maggi noodle. The arena of food and health is totally contaminated recently. After the test results came out from different parts of the country, the central government had issued a nationwide ban on Maggi noodles in India. Since the fast moving world is running behind economic development, scientific innovations and global blossoming, we definitely need an easy cook which throws our eyes to the two minute Maggi noodles. Instead of digging wealth and prosperity, doesn’t it the time of transformation to a healthy well-being?
In May 2015, Food Safety Regulators from Uttar Pradesh, India found that Maggi 2 Minute Noodles had up to 17 times the permissible limit of lead in addition to monosodium glutamate (MSG) in it. Later in June, the New Delhi Government, the Gujarat FDA, Assam and some of India’s biggest retailers like Future Group which includes Big Bazaar, Easy day and Nilgiris have also imposed ban on Maggi. Thereafter multiple state authorities in India found an unacceptable amount of lead and it has been banned in more than 5 other states including Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Subsequently, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ordered a recall of all nine approved variants of Maggi instant noodles from India, terming them “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption. And the very next day, the central government of India outlaw nationwide sale of Maggi noodles for an indefinite period.
Taking a global view on this regard, on the same day, Food Safety Agency of United Kingdom launched an investigation to find levels of lead in Maggi noodles. Nepal also banned the same. It has been withdrawn in five African nations- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan by a super-market chain after a complaint by the Consumer Federation of Kenya. It was revealed later that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had refused import of the noodles in early in January 2015 on grounds similar to the reasons for ban in India.
Why India expelled Maggi? – Two reasons headed up for putting an end to Maggi’s trade in India. One is lead and another is MSG.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) is commonly known as ajinomoto in Indian market. MSG intake causes severe effects on one’s body due to enlargement of glutamate in blood level by about 8-10 times. Generally this level should be very low in the blood. Also the ajinomoto ingredients are an excitatory neurotransmitter. It is addictive and a slow killer too. Lead poisoning affects humans and other vertebrates which is toxic to many organs and tissues.
The ground for ban is, they used the above mentioned contents above permissible limit. Then and there sprout out a very significant query – “what is the permissible limit”. The laws related to the above topics lies in The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and its Rules. Sec 22of FSS Act has mentioned about genetically modified food items and Sec 23 speaks about labelling. According to the legislation, the permissible limit of lead in eatables is 2.5ppm (parts per million). Whereas the US FDA had border lined lead content to 0.5µg/mL for infant and children (FDA 1994 and FDA 1995 as cited in ATSDR 1999). WHO expert committee also marked 3 mg of lead/person, equivalent to 0.05 mg/kg for adults. Paradoxically in India, Maggi is advertised specifically for children, which had 17.68ppm of lead in it. With reference to labelling, Maggi scribbled “No Added MSG” on the label contending that it is a common practice across the industry.
According to FDA, MSG is safe. However intake of added MSG must be curbed to 0.55 grams per day. ‘The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act’ is vague in the intake of MSG whereas the ‘Rules’ have described the ambit of labelling, but that too is not specific regarding the usage of it. If MSG itself is an unhealthy content, why doesn’t the government choose to ban it? It is damn sure that these ingredients are present not only in Maggi. The crooked eyes of the commercial world can effortlessly awaken the taste buds of common man by mixing these kinds of artificial contents and chemicals. ‘Where to keep the boundary’ and ‘who will bell the cat’ is the major concern in the market now.
It’s high time that the authorities should awake from their slumber. It’s a common phenomenon that once a food found adulterated, then rapid fire raids and surprise attacks boost all over the country. That boom will shut down as early as another controversy arises. Judiciary cannot do wonders unless implemented perfectly. The rules must be without ambiguities and it needs flawless workforce to implement it. The more you punish, the more filtered be the public.
On 05.6.2015 The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had issued an order against Nestle to recall all its products. Recently the central government also started off to provide guidelines about food additives and poisonous ingredients which is a landmark in this regard. They have already issued orders to the state governments. However in a structural macro-economic India, where the merchandise is kinged by certain hidden well-heeled cobras, it shall be awkward to mutter around “being –healthy”. That concept tantamount the saying of American humanitarian and anthropologist, Paul Farmer- “Anywhere you have extreme poverty and no national health insurance, no promise of health care regardless of social standing, that’s where you see the sharp limitations of market-based health care”.
Adv. Kanmani K.S.
Courtesy; bbc,ndtv,economictimes,hindu businesstimes,The PFA Act and Rules,The FSS Act, USFDA.