How Much Lead is ‘Healthy’? Maggi Finds Itself in Thick Soup, Again

[pullquote_left] Lead levels are well within the limits specified by food regulations [/pullquote_left]

While we told you that Maggi had issued an official statement claiming that their noodles were safe to eat, we missed out on a crucial part of their statement. They said, “All the results of these internal and external tests show that lead levels are well within the limits specified by food regulations.” Why do food regulations have lead specifications in the first place?


[pullquote_left]Several testing laboratories at state-levels fail to conform to standards [/pullquote_left]

It is tough to blame the noodle giant as we need to understand various aspects that have ‘lead’ to the ban of Maggi in yet another city; Delhi. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) battled accusations that the tests they were conducting were not enough to check MSG and Lead levels in many products. Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer Voice, spoke to Firstpost and said,”No one is talking about the technical aspect. The quality of the tests conducted is paramount. The central agency, FSSAI should have immediately got the testing of Maggi samples done by the NABL accredited labs and its verdict would have been final. Several testing laboratories at state-levels fail to conform to standards. The equipment used by these labs is often not upgraded and not properly calibrated. This leads to a variation in results.”

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Even though the government is attempting to take a stand at such a late stage, the rules and regulations that we adhere to aren’t strict enough to ban or regulate policies regarding health. Most manufacturers aren’t scared of the law and often tend to resume their prior state of affairs after the hue and cry has settled. We’ve seen it in so many cases such as, Kurkure that was blamed to have components of plastic, and Cadbury Dairy Milk that faced accusations of worms being found in packaged pieces, as well as many others. Were they banned permanently? The answer is a resounding no.

image courtesy:

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While we, the upper and middle class minority, can remove Maggi from our lives and replace it with healthier options, poorer classes will find it tougher to do so. It has been reported that the sales of Maggi noodles, had been dropping since 2009 due to the surge of instant noodle options in the market. Therefore, Maggi had begun to expand to the rural and slum areas of the country that see a regular and higher consumption of the 2 minute noodles. While a small packet of Maggi is priced at Rs. 10, another brand, say, Ching’s noodles costs Rs. 24 and any imported noodles that have recently come into the Indian market, are even more expensive than these two. Naturally then, Maggi becomes the most affordable.

The rural areas as well as the slums are already facing a nutritional crisis, where children, are in the danger of Malnutrition, due to the heavy consumption of junk food. In addition to this, the over consumption of lead can lead to poisoning, insomnia, anemia, mental retardation and brain damage. It therefore all boils down to implementing laws that make sure that nothing toxic is being consumed. Even if it’s a certain amount.

This is just a small sip of the brewing hazard that we are facing. Is Maggi then, the only one to be blamed?The government and manufacturers together need to keep the health of its consumers in mind and ought to conduct advanced testing before they release these products into the market. If this is done, we can easily see a lot more food giants shutting shop.

While the entire nation awaits the fate of Maggi (the verdict by the Delhi high court will be out in 15 days) and we secretly and vocally express our disappointment, we need to understand the long term consequences of consuming “lead within the limited food specifications.”

Feel strongly about letting go of your childhood noodles or about your health standards? Do share your opinions.

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