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Sunday, June 14, 2015

it is getting crowded out there ~ Maggi is not alone !!

The story is set in an alternate recreation of the ancient Old World with several regions and nations having some resemblances with real-life counterparts from that time. In this world, all living beings possess an essence known as Rukh and when they die, this essence returns to the huge flow (also known as "guidance") of Rukh that gives life to all subsequent beings in an eternal cycle of rebirth called "Fate". ……

Noodles now do not require any introduction to Indians …. Noodle is a Chinese staple food made from unleavened dough which is stretched, extruded, or rolled flat and cut into one of a variety of shapes. While long, thin strips may be the most common, many varieties of noodles are cut into waves, helices, tubes, strings, or shells, or folded over, or cut into other shapes. Noodles are usually cooked in boiling water, sometimes with cooking oil or salt added. The word derives from the German word Nudel.  Maggi now in the midst of a storm is also not new – they came in 1983 when Kapil’s Devils lifted the Prudential World Cup – with great advt campaign of a food that could be cooked in 2 minutes impacted the lives of Indians and the concept of a caring mother – the ‘maggi mom’ lifted the sales; that she was also able to juggle her workplace and domestic responsibilities because of the snack added more spice !!!...

Initially it was considered junk food and in some schools it was banned during lunch – parents were sent note not to pack the lunchboxes with Maggi – not for too long – as the increasing sales revealed.  It certainly was very popular until the recent findings and ban based on tests that deemed Maggi containing unsafe and hazardous amounts of lead.  On Friday, a Mumbai Court  denied Nestle's request for a stay of the nationwide ban on Maggi noodles in India.

Nestle maintains its noodles are safe but last week began withdrawing them from Indian shops. On Friday the court ruled that as the noodles are being withdrawn anyway "the question of granting stay... at this stage does not arise". The judges ordered the food authorities to file their responses to Nestle's petition that the ban be completely revoked in time for a further court hearing on 30 June. Nestle has argued that the tests that found lead are flawed and inaccurate. It says it has carried out its own tests on over 1,000 batches of Maggi noodles, plus commissioned tests at external labs on a further 600 batches. "All results indicate that Maggi noodles are safe and well within the regulatory limits established in India," the company said.

Internet is ripe with memes of ‘idiyappam justly winning the running battle’ and Maggi beat by Top Raman and the like ….. but if at all you ever carried an impression that Maggi was the only noodle brand harmful to  health, one need to revisit their thoughts.  The latest lab report shows that several other popular brands are equally unsafe for consumption. The new test report by Delhi government’s food department has revealed that of the 12 samples of other brands of noodles, eight have failed the quality test. The samples collected were from brands like Top Ramen, Tops, Ching’s and Foodles.  Daily Mail quoting the Commissioner of Food safety of Delhi Govt  states that the samples  were lifted from various parts of Delhi and sent for testing last week and has revealed  that of the 12 samples of other brands of noodles, eight have failed the quality test !!!  

The samples collected for the study were from brands like Top Ramen, Tops, Ching’s and Foodles.   Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavour enhancer traditionally used in Chinese food, is a kind of amino acid which occurs naturally in many agricultural products- the laboratory test report shows that on many products, the manufacturers have not mentioned ingredients like MSG which have been used in the product.  The Govt authority is quoted as saying that action will be taken  against all these food companies. Often, MSG  is added artificially to packaged food for augmenting flavour. The food safety regulations mandate companies to specify it on the packaging if MSG has been added. Doctors say that the consumption of MSG may cause problems like burning sensations in mouth, head and neck. It may cause weakness in arms or legs, headaches and upset stomach approximately 15 minutes after MSG is consumed. Other problems may be flushing headaches and hives or allergic-type reactions on the skin.

Daily Mail reports that as per the lab test reports, five of the six Top Ramen noodles samples have been found wrongly branded.  Similarly, two samples of Ching’s have also been found wrongly branded. On the other hand, the presence of lead in one sample of Foodles noodles was found above the permissible limit, and it was therefore found unsafe for human consumption.   The Delhi government had on June 2 banned the sale of Maggi in the national Capital for 15 days; a move taken after 75 per cent of the samples lifted for lab testing failed the quality test.  Nestlé has been battling its worst branding crisis in India since a regulator in Uttar Pradesh found monosodium glutamate (MSG) and excess lead in a sample of its hugely popular noodles.

Not only the noodles, many other popular packaged snacks — including various brands of chips and Kurkure — are also under the scanner of the authorities.  It is not the products that have fallen – more so the trust of people, that when we buy premium items manufactured by big MNC’s, they would be far better and healthier as compared to low cost foods sold on road side !

On a different note, the first para is about ‘ Magi ‘ – the Labyrinth of Magic, a Japanese series written and illustrated by Shinobu Ohtaka. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday since June 2009.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th June 2015.

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