Sunday, June 14, 2015

After Maggi, Fresh Tests Reveal Big Noodle Brands Like Top Ramen, Ching's And Foodles Fail Quality Standards

By Likha Veer 
Group Executive Editor
If you carried the impression that Maggi was the only noodle brand harmful to your health, think again. 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. 

“The samples were lifted from various parts of Delhi and sent for testing last week,” KK Jindal, commissioner in the department of food safety, Delhi government, told INNLIVE.

"The laboratory test report shows that on many products, the manufacturers have not mentioned ingredients like MSG which have been used in the product. We will take action against all these food companies." 

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavour enhancer traditionally used in Chinese food, is a kind of amino acid which occurs naturally in many agricultural products. 

Often, it 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. 

Wrongly branded 
As per the lab test reports, five of the six Top Ramen noodles samples have been found wrongly branded. 

“All the five samples had MSG present in them, but the list of ingredients given on the packet had no mention of MSG. It’s a case of misbranding,” Jindal added. 

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. 

“We will send these reports to the authorities concerned on Monday. The raw samples of the taste-maker as well as noodles have been taken for lab testing. Consuming MSG will not have any immediate impact but it will slowly affect a consumer’s kidneys and lungs,” Jindal pointed out. 

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. 

The report comes immediately after the famous “two-minute” snack, Maggi, was taken off the shelf till June 17 in the national Capital. 

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 India had challenged the ban on the two-minute noodles in the Bombay High Court, saying the company’s repeated tests on the product found no evidence of lead levels exceeding the limit. 

Nestlé’s lawyers argued that the central food regulator and some Indian states had unfairly imposed the ban, without explaining the reasons or giving adequate notice. 

But the Bombay High Court had on Friday declined to stay the order of food authorities banning nine variants of Maggi noodles till June 30. 

On May 20, scores of packets of Maggi, manufactured by Nestlé India, were recalled from the market following detection of high content of toxic lead and monosodium glutamate in samples lifted from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. 

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. 

Last week, Nestlé withdrew all varieties of the noodles, hours before the country’s food safety authority (FSSAI) ruled the snack “unsafe and hazardous” and banned it. 

Lead levels 
But the company has repeatedly said its Maggi noodles are safe for consumption, though it ultimately pulled the product out of the market since its consumers were worried. 

“We have tested almost 1,600 batches of Maggi noodles in our own laboratories and an independent lab. The test results confirm that lead levels in Maggi noodles are well within the food safety limits specified by the Indian authorities,” the company claimed. 

The food department of Delhi government has so far collected 21 samples of other brands of the snack. 

Not only the noodles, many other popular packaged snacks — including various brands of chips and Kurkure — are also under the scanner of the authorities. 

The department plans to test these food items over the next eight weeks. 

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