2 yrs after Maggi ban: Food firms, regulators still walk on thin ice

Analysis of ash content in food, for the uninitiated, involves the burning away of organic content, leaving inorganic minerals


On Wednesday, instant noodle brand Maggi was in the spotlight for failing laboratory tests conducted in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The current run-in coming after the lead-in-noodle issue that surfaced in May 2015 and was finally settled in 2016. This time food regulators found excess presence of ash content in Maggi, manufactured and marketed by Nestlé India, points to the difficult relationship shared by the company and the regulator.

Nestlé, however, is not the only company to come under regulatory scanner in the past few months. Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved was twice in the news this year for food safety violations pertaining to its atta noodles and amla juice, respectively. Earlier in the year, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked Hardcastle Restaurants, which runs McDonald’s outlets in west and south India, to serve soft-drinks with warning labels.

Also Read : Maggi noodle in crisis, again: After lead, now it’s ash taking away spice

Nestlé India in a conversation with Business Standard said it was yet to receive a copy of the UP FDA notice and that the lab report may have been formed based on quality standards that are now obsolete. “We wish to reassure our consumers that Maggi noodles are 100 per cent safe for consumption. We strongly reiterate that at no stage of manufacturing process, ash is added to the noodles. It is fully compliant with the standards set by FSSAI,” a company spokesperson said.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), said that he was yet to hear from the two. “We are monitoring the situation closely. We have not heard from the company (Nestlé) or the state body (UP FDA) yet. Having said that, we have revised the standards for noodles, and ash content, excluding acid insoluble ash, is no longer an issue. Yes, when it comes to acid insoluble ash, there is a limit prescribed by FSSAI and it is to be seen whether this limit has been breached based on the new standards (for noodles).”

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KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, McDonald’s outlets selling toxic breads: CSE study

Major multinational fast food outlets — KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Subway and McDonald’s — are selling pizzas and burgers made of breads laced with toxins such as potassium bromate and potassium iodate, says the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

“Except Domino’s, others have denied use (of these chemicals) in a response to CSE,” went its press statement on the study, limited to the geographical area of Delhi. Domino’s did not respond to the CSE queries Potassium bromate is a Category 2B carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer. Potassium iodate could trigger thyroid disorders.

According to a Press Trust of India (PTI) report, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said it had decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives, while it was examining evidence against potassium iodate before restricting its use.

CSE had urged the food regulator to ban the use of the two chemicals with immediate effect.

Bread products of Perfect Bread, Harvest Gold and Britannia were also found with a high amount of these two toxic breads, CSE said. Unlike in this country, the use of these chemicals in the bread-making sector has been banned in many countries for being hazardous to public health. Read More