Maggi recall order pan-India, more states act

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) Even as India’s food safety watchdog said the withdrawal orders on Maggi noodles were applicable pan-India, more states joined in to post their own orders on the popular snack, including Tripura, Maharashtra and Punjab. While Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh sent samples for tests, Nagaland asked people not to buy Maggi noodles till further orders.

According to a set of frequently asked questions posted on the website of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the legislation that set up this watchdog was applicable throughout India. Officials said the orders, too had similar sanctity.

The reason for states also initiating similar measures was attributed to the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 vesting the responsibility of enforcement on both the central and state authorities.

Amid these developments, officials in Bengaluru said initial tests on the Maggi noodles’ samples sent by the Karnataka government showed permissible levels of lead content.

The samples were sent to two laboratories.

“We received the reports. Lead, which is the main concern, is within the permissible limits. Nothing wrong, there is no issue here,” said H. Shiva Kumar, Karnataka’s joint director for food safety and standards, revealing the results of the seven samples analysed.

But reports from several states suggested that Maggi noodles were available at stores despite the order for withdrawal pertaining to nine variants – as also Maggi oats noodles with tastemaker – that was issued by the central authority on Friday in New Delhi

Among the other states, Tripura banned Maggi noodles, while Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh sent its samples for testing, according to official statements issued on Saturday. In Dimapur, the Nagaland government asked people not to buy Maggi noodles till further orders.

The Punjab government on Saturday restrained Nestle India from manufacturing all nine variants of Maggi noodles at its plant in Moga town for a year.

The government issued orders to Nestle prohibiting manufacture, distribution and sale of all nine variants of Maggi from the plant with immediate effect, an official statement said here.

Nestle was also directed to immediately withdraw and recall all nine variants from the market, in an order issued by Hussan Lal, state commissioner for food safety.

The Assam government on Friday evening had banned the sale of Maggi Xtra – chicken noodles marketed by Nestle India in the state – for 30 days. The Maharashtra government also resorted to a similar measure.

Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Girish Bapat announced the ban after receiving the test reports of six Maggi samples sent to a Pune lab. The test reports found lead to be far in excess of the permissible 2.5 parts per million (ppm).

Amid the Maggi noodle controversy, concern was expressed over other products as well.

Micro-blogging sites were abuzz with comments from all sections, with actor Kabir Bedi mentioning that the government should focus on more important sanitation issues.

“State governments should focus more on undrinkable tap water, unbreathable air, adulterated spices & fake medicines. #Maggi #Nestle,” Kabir posted.

Echoing this, actress Gul Panag shared: “While we outrage about #Maggi & processed food, spare a thought for the ‘freshly’ cooked highly contaminated street food bulk of India eats.”

Maggi noodles, a popular snack from the Nestle India ‘kitchen’, has been in the news following a lab report that samples of the product contained more lead than the permissible limit.

The food safety body’s eight-page order dwelt on three issues: Presence of more-than permissible levels of lead in samples analysed in some states, Nestle’s claims that there was no added mono-sodium glutamate and the sale of its oats noodles and tastemaker without prior safety approval.

Some state governments banned Maggi for 15 to 30 days and many called for tests on the popular noodle brand. This apart, the celebrities who endorsed the brand in the past – Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta – also got embroiled in the controversy.

 

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