Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has finally stepped into the issue of the alleged presence of “higher” level of lead and a MSG in Nestle’s Maggi Masala noodles.
The reports of higher monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in Nestle’s Maggi noodles is already under scrutiny in several states such as UP and Maharashtra. “We will look into the matter and decide on a course of action after the investigation,” Paswan told reporters.
The famous 2-minute Maggi Noodles, nowadays advertised by Madhuri Dixit, was found to have contained monosodium glutamate (MSG) and ‘lead’ beyond the permissible levels by UP food and drug officials recently.
In their test, the authorities found that Maggi contained 17 ppm (parts per million) lead, which is harmful as against the permissible levels of 0.01ppm.
While the authorities are going gor further sampling to establish the contents of Maggi Noodles, the Lucknow Food Safety and Drug Administration said an enquiry has been ordered and the national Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in New Delhi has been inimated about the first round test results.
If the second round too confirms the conents of MSG and lead in higher permissible levels in Maggi Noodles, then the FSSAI will have to cancel the manufacturing and selling of Maggi Noodles in India. Swiss-based Nestle is the manufacturer of Maggi Noodles.
Uttar Pradesh FSDA confirmed the results and said further sampling has been ordered. Its Assistant Commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav told the media that the samples were tested at Kolkata lab. “The test results show that there are added monosodium glutamate and excess of lead.”
While the enquiry and further sampling is on, a Nestle spokesperson refuted the charges saying the company does not add MSG to MAGGI Noodles and glutamate, if present, may have come from naturally occurring sources. Nestle further defended that the lead content is insignificant and less than 1 % of the fixed limit.
Of late, several popular brands have come under scanner for their non-compliance with regulatory provisions. Even Colgate was found to have used excess chemicals in their Total toothpaste last year. Most of these events end up in courts or companies simply withdraw the brand with no long-term punitive action.
Otherwise, the general complaint against all noodles including Maggi, Top Ramen, Ching’s Secret and others is that they are high on salt and fat content too, which is harmful to children who love to eat and the targeted audience in TV commercials.
The Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS) of Ahmedabad had complained to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) over Madhuri-promoted Maggi Oats Noodles and Maggi Atta Noodles disputing their claims of being healthy but so far no action has been taken, though the ASCI had upheld CERS’ complaint saying the ads contravened Chapter I.4 of the ASCI Code and also the Guidelines on Advertising of Foods & Beverages.