By: Keyur Seta
The controversy regarding the presence of high amount of lead and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in India’s loved snack Maggi Noodles and its subsequent ban in various states (Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam soon all over India) has come as a rude shock to many, including me, for two reasons.
Let’s face it, there are many around us who not just love Maggi but are also dependent on it. I know a lot of people (mostly men) who can cook just one dish – Maggi. The snack is also a messiah for people living in remote areas of Himalayas. Secondly, the controversy is completely out of the blue. Seriously, how many of us had expected something of this magnitude to happen with Maggi? None, actually!
As things stand out, we can’t ignore the serious health hazards posed by the snack due to the enormous level of lead and MSG being found in it; lead is around 17 times more than permissible limit. And when the risk is as high as being attacked by Cancer, you really can’t ignore it. Hence, ban on Maggi is the only way to deal with the situation, no matter how painful it is for many of us.
But the issue doesn’t end here, at least for me. In fact, it starts here. The whole controversy surrounding Maggi has opened a can of worms as it has given rise to some very serious questions or pointers:-
1) Was FDA sleeping?: The presence of such high amounts of lead was found unknowingly or randomly by a person who got the noodles tested for something else. If he hadn’t tested, we wouldn’t have realized this incredibly serious issue with the snack. So, this completely exposes the functioning of Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with regards to clearing foodstuffs.
How did they allow such a big scam to ever take place right under their nose? What is the point of having FDA if they are unable to detect such enormously dangerous substances in a snack that is consumed by all, including children? Is their responsibility only limited to testing an item during license renewal that happens just once in 6 months or more?
Therefore, if there is anyone in the firing line due to the controversy it is the FDA. With the presence of lead in such high amounts in Maggi, their failure is proved, which calls for some stringent action against the officers responsible.
2) Celebrities’ Responsibility: Celebrities (Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta) endorsing Maggi shouldn’t be held responsible for promoting such a product. All they need to do is check whether the product is legal and has approval from FDA or any such government body. You can’t expect them to check the ingredients themselves in a laboratory when our authorities themselves have easily cleared the product.
However, this doesn’t give a Clean Chit to our celebrities, at least from me, as they are still guilty of promoting lies in return for crores of rupees. For example, the packet of Maggi says it is high on Vitamins and Proteins. This is a blatant lie as it is junk food. This whole issue should be a wake-up call for our celebs when it comes to endorsing any product and everything that the makers claim.
3) What about other products?: Most importantly, this makes me doubt as to how safe are the thousands of other products that the masses are consuming, right from the time they wake up. As mentioned above, the entire Maggi fiasco came to the surface by fluke after a man got it tested for something else. Who knows? We might be consuming such or similar seriously hazardous products unknowingly.
The need of the hour for our authorities is to check as many products as possible for such dangerous contents and follow it up with regular surprise checks to ensure their safety. Considering the enormous number of products we consume, there is no doubt that this is an almost impossible task. But nothing is more important than the well-being of the citizens.