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Maggi Noodles Ban Spread On Social Media Channels

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“Khushiyon wali Maggi turn outs to be Lead and MSG wali Maggi” and this controversy have surely scared off Maggi lovers. Maggi is not just ‘two minute instant noodles’ for many Indians its national comfort food. Maggi noodles can be called “the third staple” along with rice and lentils as it is a household name in India. Maggi noodles is quite popular among school and college students due to its “two-minute” advertising campaign. Maggi noodles arrived in India in 1983 and can found in almost every other store across the country. Maggi noodles is Nestle’s product. Nestle’s relationship with India can be traced back to 1912, when it launched in the country as The Nestle Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (Export).

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Maggi controversy initiated when India’s food safety regulator said tests have found Nestle India’s Maggi instant noodle products are “unsafe and hazardous”. The Food safety and Standards Authority of India accused Nestle of failing to comply with food safety laws. Maggi was caught in the act, when Uttar Pradesh’s Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) ordered the recall of a 200,000-pack batch of noodles at the end of April. The results obtained after a spot check were frightful and  showed elevated levels of mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer and lead 17 times above the permissible limit. The seasoning had an average 3.5 parts per million of lead but on the contrary maximum permissible limit according to government regulations is 2.5ppm. India’s food safety regulator said that packets of Maggi oats noodles with taste-maker were misleadingly labeled with ‘No added MSG’.

Lead is quite a hazardous chemical. The half-life of lead in soft tissues is 90 days. Once it goes into bones, it stays for 30-35 years. It bioaccumulates, and has no beneficial role. Lead only inhibits biological processes. Lead is quite harmful to developing fetus, pregnant mother and kids. In children during their growth and development phase, it accumulates in their brain and neurological system. It brings about lead-induced encephalopathy. MSG is termed as ‘Silent Killer’ and is one of the worst food additives in the market.

MSG is more than just a seasoning like salt and pepper; it actually enhances the flavor of foods. MSG’s benefit to the food industry is quite clear but silently it can damage our health. MSG tricks your tongue, using a little-known fifth basic taste: Umami. Umami is the taste of glutamate. MSG is an Excitotoxin which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage. It also causes brain damage to varying degrees. Maggi has basically three components –the white noodle block, spice powder which comes in sachet and the covering package. The quality of plastic in covering package also matters. The spices, the masala, it has coloring agents. One of them may be having lead. The machinery could also be a potential contaminant, as could the water used to wash the flour.

The safety guidelines for food and food preparation need to be followed from time to time of food purchase. Failure to maintain a good food safety procedure can lead to illnesses that could be mild or severe. The Food safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the supreme authority on all matters concerning the food industry, is like a general without an army. Raw materials are not periodically evaluated in India. Regular checks of raw material will help generate database of possible toxic components for every ingredients. The current negative news flow and accompanying bans by state governments will lead to a drop in sales. Maggi noodles account for about 20 percent to 25 percent of Nestle India’ sales.

The Maggi noodles controversy provides a learning opportunity for companies, regulators, governments, the media and the public at large on how to enforce standards of food safety and how to avoid such stereotypical reaction. As The Maggi issue was alarming proportions, Paul Bulcke (CEO) of the largest food company in the world (revenue-wise) came to India to contain the allegations of contamination in its most popular Maggi noodles. The Nestle CEO has maintained that Maggi was safe but the product was being withdrawn ‘temporarily’ from India owing to ‘unfounded concerns’ that had shaken consumer trust.

The ban of Maggi noodles in Delhi received prominent coverage in the media and on social media platforms. The ban sparked humor as well as public health concerns on social media platforms like Twitter. Celebrities who endorsed Maggi noodles that is Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preeti Zinta were also dragged into the controversy. A Bihar court directed authorities to file a FIR against officials of Nestle, the producer of Maggi noodles, as well as Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preeti Zinta. The center said that brand ambassadors of brand could face legal action if the ads they featured in were found misleading. Twitteratis did what they are best at doing as always reacted on this controversy too. As the news broke, Twitter was abuzz with reactions. Twitter flooded with tweets on this topic.

Here are few of tweets:

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Maggi noodles are a product that has been around for generations and can probably withstand a bout of bad publicity. Something worth contemplating is, is there any standard protocol for communication between advertising standards council of India? Any measures which guards against false and misleading claims in advertisements and FSSAI to vet food advertisements? Should celebrities endorsing such products be held responsible in any circumstances? Anyway for that scrumptious taste ‘Maggi Noodles’ deserves our  ‘2 minutes’ silence.

Image Credit: newssx, indiatvnews, Twitter.

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