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Maggi row: Govt still adamant over probe and action, but concrete results awaited

New Delhi, PTI | Updated : 04 June 2015, 02:19 PM

With mounting safety concerns in India over Maggi noodles, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday noted that authority will do investigation and will submit report to National Commission soon.

He added, “It is the first time after independence that suo moto control in such matter is taken & case is referred to National Commission.”

Meanwhile Yudhvir Singh Malik, FSSAI CEO said, “We are yet to discuss the Maggi issue, we will let you know as soon as we decide something.”

Over 1,000 army and navy canteens have been asked to set aside existing stocks of the popular snack Maggi noodles until further orders. Puducherry and Arunachal government today said samples have been sent for lab tests and follow up action would be taken, based on the results.

Modi govt assures action against Maggi if found guilty; Nestle stock dives 11%

Amid row surrounding Maggi noodles, Union Health Minister JP Nadda today assured that his Ministry will take appropriate action based on reports from all the states and said no laxity will shown. Nadda said that he will hold a meeting on Thursday to take a complete stock of the whole issue.

“We had issued an advisory to all the states and told them to take samples of maggi noodles and report to us by June 1. The states have started sending their reports. Few states are still left.

“We are waiting for the reports to come. We are taking a view on it. Maybe tonight or tomorrow we will be having a meeting. We will take a complete picture of the issue.  Accordingly action will be taken. No laxity will be there.

Appropriate action will be taken,” Nadda said.

Facing backlash, the stock price of Nestle crashed over 11% in intra-day trades on Wednesday and closed 9% lower. 

After Uttar Pradesh, the probe into alleged lapses of food safety standards was expanded and Maggi noodle samples are being tested across the country.

However, Nestle India claimed it has got samples tested in an external laboratory as well as in-house and that the product was found “safe to eat”.

Nadda said that his Ministry is seeing to it that the report from different states reach them as soon as possible so that it can take a view on the issue.

“First of all, we are waiting for the reports. Let things get authenticated. Only then the ministry is going to take the view. We are trying to see to it that the reports reach us as soon as possible. Appropriate action will be taken based on the reports,” he said.

Asked whether any advisory has been issued from the Union Health Ministry to the states to put the product on hold, Nadda said,”Not yet. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is going to take a complete picture after getting reports from states.”

A number of states including Kerala and Haryana have also initiated steps.

The Delhi government has banned the sale of Maggi noodles for 15 days and asked the Indian arm of Swiss manufacturer Nestle to withdraw the existing stock.

Research and advocacy body Centre for Science and Environment today said consumers are unaware of ingredients and nutrition information of a product due to lack of appropriate “nutrition fact labelling” in the country, against the backdrop of row over Maggi noodles.

CSE said that as a consumer’s right, what is there in a food product should be clearly mentioned on the pack with quantity of each ingredient reflecting the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

The research and advocacy body also said that there is no government backed regulation to control celebrity-endorsed advertisements in the country and advocated “mandatory” control over such advertisements.

Welcoming the initiative of food authorities to test food samples for heavy metals, CSE said that consumers are unaware of ingredients and nutrition information of a product due to lack of appropriate “nutrition fact labelling” in the country.

Referring to its research in 2012, CSE also said that it had found that Maggi instant noodles came with a high salt content and that a packet of noodle had around 3 gram of salt while the recommended salt intake per person per day is 6 gram.

“This means that if you eat a packet of these noodles, you will have to watch your salt intake very carefully through the rest of the day. Consumption of such ultra processed foods high in salt is associated with the increased risk of obesity and diabetes,” said Amit Khurana, programme manager of CSE’s food safety team.

The lab study had also found that addition of vitamins, as claimed by Maggi, did not make it a healthy food as it had negligible fibres -- 70 per cent of it was just carbohydrates.

“It is an issue of public health and public good, hence, there is no room for any compromise on this issue. It is great that for the first time, processed food is being tested for contaminants like heavy metals by our food safety authorities.

“More tests should be done,” said Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general.

After Uttar Pradesh, the probe into alleged lapses of food safety standards was expanded and Maggi noodle samples are being tested across the country.

However, Nestle India claimed it has got samples tested in an external laboratory as well as in-house and that the product was found “safe to eat”.

CSE said that “unregulated advertising of junk food” targeted at children plays “crucial” role in building up their food preferences and they fall victim to such advertisements as they are not mature enough to make the right food choice. 

First Published: Thursday, June 04, 2015 08:18 [IST]
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