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Maggi Noodles; To eat or not to eat?

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New Dehli: With Nestle India early on Friday said it was withdrawing Maggi noodles in the country amid nation-wide scrutiny over more-than-permissible limits of lead, but continued to maintain it was safe and that it would be back on store shelves soon, will Nestle Pakistan follow suit or issue a confirmation that it does not have any harmful effects?

The Delhi government banned Maggi noodles for 15 days, after lab reports of its samples tested positive for higher-than-permissible levels of some substances. After Delhi, more states – Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Tamil Nadu announced a ban on the sale and storage of Nestle’s Maggi after test reports found that the noodles were unsafe for consumption

The Delhi government statement said samples of the noodles were found to contain lead in amounts exceeding prescribed limits. “Last week, a total of 13 samples of Maggi noodles were lifted and on test/analysis of the same it was found that in case of masala (tastemaker) part of the Maggi noodles, 10 masala samples were found unsafe having lead exceeding the prescribed limits.

The prescribed maximum limit of lead is 2.5 ppm,” the Delhi government statement said. Stating that “five samples of masala were also having monosodium glutamate without proper label declaration”, the government said it falls “under the category of misbranding”.

This follows a recall order for a particular batch of the noodle brand by the Uttar Pradesh Food and Drugs Authority in April this year, after allegations that its samples were found to have higher-than-permissible levels of lead.

The famous Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Madhuri Dixit are facing a backlash having endorsed Maggi noodles as brand ambassadors.

The Muzaffarpur court in Bihar has ordered registration of FIR against them on a complaint of sale of harmful Maggi noodles.

The Union Food and Consumer Affairs minister said that no leniency would be shown against those indulging in manufacture and promotion of sale of life-saving items and harmful food products.

With consumers wary of Maggi noodles, the sale of this popular snack which has been a part of the Indian palette for over 25 years, has taken a hit.

The food safety agency of the United Kingdom will start testing a few samples of Maggi noodles, which includes a particular variant ‘masala’ which is imported from India, starting today. After reports and results that the instant noodles was found to have high content of lead, much more than permissible limit, the government here has decided to check the existing stock imported by Indian stores in the country.

At the moment most Indian stores continue to sell Maggi noodles for double the price in London. “We have so far not received any communication to either hold or stop the sale do we are clearing stock we already have,” said Rashid Butt, a store owner on London road in South London.

The food regulation act of UK requires every single ingredient that goes into making a product in the country to be listed on the packaging.

The popular snack is facing the heat in India after high lead content was found in few of its samples tested in Uttar Pradesh. On Friday, Nestle’s global CEO Paul Bulcke asserted in Delhi that Maggi noodles are “safe to eat”, but India’s food safety regulator FSSAI said laboratory tests have found overwhelming evidence that the instant noodles are “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption and issued a series of orders to Nestle, including withdrawing nine versions of its Maggi instant noodles and another product that, it said, was being sold without product approval.

Keeping the alleged accusations it is time that government agencies, especially quality testing agencies should step in to ensure no hazardous food is consumed by children in Pakistan.

June 7, 2015

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