Knock Knock: Mothers Mourn Maggi Mess

Mothers react to the news that India’s food regulators have found lead and MSG in Maggi.

Maggi has been under country-wide scrutiny with state governments asking testing samples of the instant noodle for lead and mono-sodium glutamate or MSG levels.

This follows the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) finding MSG and very high quantities of lead — 17.2 parts per million — in Maggi samples, which were sent to the state laboratory for testing. The permissible level of lead is 2 ppm according to the guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Based on the reports, UP FSDA filed a complaint against Nestlé India.

The controversy started in March 2014, when V K Pandey, a Barabanki-based officer of UP FSDA, collected samples of Maggi noodles from a store to check whether their claim of not containing MSG stands true. Nestle challenged the test results. Maggi noodle samples were then sent to central food testing lab in Kolkata. The results of this test came in April 2015 and confirmed the earlier reports.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ordered nationwide tests following an order from Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. “If contents are injurious to health, we will take action. We will find the culprits and they will be punished,” he said.

The Delhi government on Wednesday banned the sale of Maggi for 15 days, after samples of the product failed quality tests conducted by the Food Safety department of the Delhi government. Gujarat, Uttrakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the other states which have subsequently banned Maggi sales.

The Indian Army also issued an advisory on Wednesday asking its personnel not to consume Maggi noodles and directed military canteens to set aside the existing stock of the popular snack until further orders.

Mothers and college students will probably be the worst hit by these bans. Maggi, a popular snack, has been a lifeline for mothers and students for thirty-two years since it launched in 1983.

While Nestlé India shares tanked by 9% on Wednesday and its market valuation has dipped by Rs. 7,680.44 crore to Rs. 57,953.56 crore in two consecutive trading sessions, the company has chosen to address the raging storm directly through its website and promoted statements on social media. It said, “We have tested around 1,000 batches of MAGGI Noodles in our own laboratories and also asked an independent lab to test an additional 600 product batches. Almost 125 million or 12.5 crore packets were tested in total. The test results confirm that MAGGI Noodles are safe, with lead levels well within the food safety limits specified by the Indian authorities.”

Despite their attempts to convince consumers, mothers, for now, are being cautious and staying off this quick-fix meal but they really want Nestlé to fix this matter and bring the convenience of Maggi back.

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