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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Excessive Lead: FDA Officials Recall Maggi Packets Kept For Sale

UP FSDA finds MSG & Lead beyond limits in Maggi noodles ; seeks recall

Food major Nestle is in trouble as Food Safety and Drug Administration in Uttar Pradesh has asked the company to withdraw Maggi, one of its popular brands of noodles, from all the retail outlets in the state.

The action was taken as tests on one of the samples of the product confirmed presence of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and Lead way above permissible limits. The particular sample was collected from an EasyDay retail outlet in Barabanki district, which is located around 30 km north of Lucknow.

Speaking to FnB news, Anant Swarup, chief food safety officer, FSDA Uttar Pradesh, explains, “The food safety authority of the state has asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to cancel the licence of the company producing the particular brand and conduct a nationwide quality check of this product to ensure food safety.”

While FSSAI stated that it would take action after it obtained test results and information from state authorities, Nestle denied the claims and maintained that the chemicals added were within permissible limits as per FSSAI guidelines.

However, this statement was contradictory to the samples collected and sent for testing in the referral lab in Kolkata that found 17.5 parts per million (ppm) Lead, whereas the permitted level of Lead in noodles by FSSAI was 0.02 ppm. According to experts, this may cause severe health problems by affecting internal organs such as liver and intestine.

Further, MSG was detected from a packet, which declared 'no added MSG.' Reportedly MSG ‘creates an addiction’ to the product, particularly among  children and is used as a flavouring substance.

Meanwhile, FSDA has already started a full-fledged investigation by collecting samples from different parts of the state and if more chemicals are found, may lead to the cancellation of licence of the company.

Vijay Bahadur, assistant commissioner (food safety), FSDA Uttar Pradesh, states, “It has also initiated an investigation in all districts of the state by collecting samples and testing in laboratories to check amount of chemicals present.”

Bahadur explained that the chemicals detected in the noodles were of serious concern due to the health problems they might cause. While MSG can be used as a material to generate addiction, particularly among children, high levels of Lead can cause serious damages to internal organs including liver and intestine. Therefore, it has been ordered to be off-the market for public safety.

According to V K Pandey, designated officer, Barabanki district, FSDA Uttar Pradesh, MSG was normally used as a flavouring substance in packed and processed foods.

He said that in this case, presence of MSG and its use as a substance for addiction was reported and alleged that the presence of lead was beyond the permissible limit. He added that the officers were collecting more samples from various retail outlets to verify the quality of the products and detection of such chemicals during quality check by food safety authorities may result in cancellation of licence or even banning of the brand.

While, FSDA holds the authority to withdraw such products, FSSAI has the right to cancel the licence to the product after proper test results.