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Maggi ban: No immediate relief for Nestle India

12,June, 2015 Comments off

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday refused to grant any immediate relief to Nestle India, which has challenged government’s ban on Maggi noodles.
The high court did not pass any interim orders and did not stay the ban. Instead, the judges permitted the authorities to take all legally permissible actions for any non-compliance of the ban.
The court recorded a statement of Nestle in which the company said it is in the process of withdrawing all packets from stores across India.
The bench of Justices VM Kanade and BP Colabawalla directed the state, Centre, FSSAI and the food commissioner to file replies to the petition filed by Nestle and the allegations made by it of violation of principles of natural justice.
FSSAI lawyer Mehmood Pracha and additional solicitor general Anil Singh appearing for Maharashtra government said notice was served on the company, while Iqbal Chagla, counsel for Nestle, claimed no prior notice was given.
A showcause notice was served only after the June 5 ban was issued on all nine variants despite test being conducted on only three variants, the counsel for Nestle said.
"The lack of prior notice is a breach especially since the authority exercised its powers which mandate a proper hearing," Chagla said, adding "law doesn’t give a carte blanche to FSSAI CEO to pass any order without a hearing".
But the government lawyers argued that under the law there is statutory obligation and requirement not to sell unsafe food and said no notice was required once the tests found excessive lead unfit for consumption in Maggi samples.
Nestle denied that lead content was more than permissible limits.
FSSAI counsel Mehmood Pracha focussed his arguments to oppose Nestle’s petition on Section 22 of the law governing food safety.
He said that a product like Maggi which is "non-standardized" requires government approval in any case before it is sold.
Hence, when tests showed excess lead in some samples, the government used its power to ban it across all states and asked the states to enforce the ban, he said.
FSSAI counsel also said that Section 26 talks about self compliance. "It’s a regime of trust. The trust is now broken because of the tests showing lead beyond permissible limits in the sample," he said.
Mehmood Pracha countered Chagla’s submissions that Nestle does its own lab testing since it believes in selling safe products.
FSSAI counsel said that the budget for lab testing of Nestle is meagre at Rs 1.9 crore while for advertising and marketing the company spends Rs 445 crore.
"This shows how much their priority is for food safety," he said.
FSSAI said it is the duty of the company to ensure that the withdrawal of Maggi packets is complete. But Nestle said it may not be possible to control vendors in far flung areas.
The judge at the end said in a lighter vein that "the product may not be good but their ambassadors are". Superstars Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta were its ambassadors once.
The comment did not elicit smiles from the Nestle legal team comprising senior counsel Amit Desai.
The centre and state have two weeks to file reply, and after that Nestle has three days to file its reply.
The next hearing has been scheduled for June 30.
Nestle India had on Thursday moved the court saying the ban on Maggi violated its constitutional rights and the principles of natural justice.
Nestle termed the ban on its best-selling two-minute noodle brand as "illegal, arbitrary, unjust and devoid of merit".
The court had agreed to an urgent hearing on Friday to prevent unwarranted losses to the company.
On June 5, FSSAI had asked Nestle India to "stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale" of all nine variants of Maggi with immediate effect as they had been found hazardous to health and unsafe for human consumption.
Three major violations, said FSSAI, were excessive presence of lead beyond the maximum permissible levels of 2.5 parts per million (ppm); misleading labelling information on the package reading �No Added MSG’ (monosodium glutamate); and release of a non-standardized food product in the market, Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker, without risk assessment and grant of product approval.

Categories: NEWS

Maggi row: MNCs’ double standard for nations like India is bad; but are our regulators sleeping?

12,June, 2015 Comments off

Adequate time has passed since the Maggi controversy was out in the open and the discussions have been on two issues: the harmful ingredients in a widely used popular MNC consumer food product in India which would not be tolerated in their own home country and the use of celebrity endorsement. While the umbrage at the former is understandable, the latter appears to have been stretched a bit far with the legal system now getting into the frame. The implications are quite deep for us.

The laboratory findings appear to be divergent with the product having different results based on the company’s own findings and that by the food quality departments operated by the government. At the same time the same product will be allowed in Singapore where one would have expected stringent conditions for testing. Therefore, the case is quite nebulous with varying results. If Nestle has taken liberties with the quality issue in India, it is certainly foolish. In case it has been lax, then it will pay the price. But the fact remains that it will set a precedent and hopefully ensures that standards are maintained. Several other FMCG companies dealing in food products are running for cover by withdrawing the product based ostensibly of not having gotten permission, though there could be review of quality.

In India we have tended to be stricter with MNCs when quality of a product is concerned and ignored the street vendor who uses impure water, unwashed hands, uncertain ingredients etc. This is not to say that two wrongs make a right, but that MNCs should take this into account when operating in India that they are more likely to be targeted than a domestic seller of a similar local product. It is also true that MNCs have had lower standards when they operate in developing countries and that the same would not be the case in other developed nations. But this could be because of the standards and the seriousness with which it is pursued. A common example is the use of helmets which is mandatory in all countries, but rarely enforced in India. The BVO content in soft drinks in India or the infamous worms in a Cadbury chocolate bar created a stir in the past while the Maggi controversy takes the cake literally.

At the economy level, the FMCG sector would receive a setback as what starts off in food could lead to inspections of other products also to ensure that there are no deviations from what is stated on the product label. The FMCG sector has been one of the better performing sectors last year, where the domination comes from MNCs which have rewritten strategies to reach out to the bottom of the pyramid by customizing products with price affordability. Hence, this episode will mean a drawback on demand to begin with.

One is not sure if similar products by domestic manufacturers will witness some substitution, as the hype created is scary as it talks of all such products harming children, which is a big consuming class of most packaged food products. In fact, the logical corollary is to also have a check on products like milk, ice creams, biscuits, soft drinks etc. and verify if there are any deep violations of standards.

At the government level, the ideological dilemma is that if we are so particular about the health of the citizens, should we be very strict with the millions of unorganized sellers/restaurants/stalls which sell products that are used by the people, especially children. The local ice-lollies, unbranded toffees, sweets, etc. sold outside schools are unlikely to meet any of the so-called Maggi standards. Are we prepared to go full steam against them and discipline them or will we forget about it not just because the logistics are challenging but also that they are potential vote banks as they have affiliation to various local parties that will be sympathetic to the cause of – ‘let the poor seller do what he wants as the state is not supporting him anyway’? Hypocrisy is not new to us and this story is another example of how we react to situations that make us contradict ourselves.

The second factor is the celebrity involvement piece. The judicial processes will decide whether the endorsers are responsible for the product or not and hence the verdict will be known. But practically speaking when we have various government departments such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it should be their responsibility to ensure the quality checks are in place. One cannot expect the endorser of a product to be checking the same and have laboratories and hire scientists before doing so. This would be carrying the theme a bit to the limit. In fact, if companies like Nestle have been selling a so-called sub-standard product for over two decades, should some authority which monitors quality be held responsible for being negligent?

 

If models that go with the endorsement in advertisements are to be responsible for the product, then it would become risky for anyone to take on this role. A celebrity endorsing toothpaste which promises whiteness or the disappearance of bacteria can be in the dock if someone finds this is not true. Carrying this step further, can we put the actor in the dock if someone replicates a stunt seen in the movie and perishes? Using this logic any celebrity who models for a bank or institution or company that goes down should also be held responsible for failure? One need to bear judgment here are distinguish between the responsibilities of the company, endorser and the regulatory authority.

The issue certainly has been magnified today because of the involvement of a MNC. After the Bhopal Gas leak, one is skeptical of these companies as the belief is that what they do in India is not what they would do in the USA or any other country. While there may be some truth in some cases, the onus really should be on the government to have responsible agencies which set such standards and ensure their compliance on an ongoing basis. For this we need to have structures in place. The issue is not just with a food product containing lead, but also the wide scale pollution by effluents in our water streams which are consumed by people. While going back into the past would be close to impossible, we certainly need to invest in creating these structures to ensure that these episodes are not repeated.

Therefore, on a positive note, this could be sued as a wake-up call so that both the government as well as the players is cognizant of their roles to ensure a safer environment for all of us.

(The author is chief economist, CARE Ratings. Views are personal)

Categories: NEWS

Maggi Not a Failed Product Thrust on a Third World Country,’ Nestle Tells Bombay High Court

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Mumbai: Nestle India Ltd today told the Bombay High Court that the orders of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, or FSSI, banning nine variants of its popular "Maggi" noodles were "drastic" and "arbitrary."

Central and food authorities of several states had banned the product after tests revealed the noodles had more lead than permissible.

"Parents have been told that their children have been poisoned for 30 years. It’s not a product which has failed safety standards and then thrust on a third world country. It is sold in other countries too. Maggi noodles are safe," senior counsel for the multinational Iqbal Chagla argued.

Mr Chagla also pointed out that the samples tested were manufactured in January 2014 and the "best before" expiry date was on 9 months. He, however, insisted that the samples were tested in January 2015, several months after they had expired. "Moreover, they were kept open to the elements from January 27th 2015 to March 31, 2015," he said.

Nestle’s legal team also argued that it was not just a commercial issue, but also one of reputation since they had been found guilty as charged even before the showcause notice was given to them. While only 3 of the 9 variants had violated regulations, they argued, the FSSI banned other variants without even testing them. "Can powers be exercised in this cavalier manner?"

The court said since Nestle itself has withdrawn Maggi, there was no immediate question of staying the ban. Hence it asked the state and the Central governments to issue a 72-hour notice to the company if they indented to take coercive action.

Last week, as multiple states tested the noodles for high lead content and MSG, a taste-enhancer, Nestle announced that it was withdrawing the noodles temporarily from the Indian market, promising to be back soon.   

On the same day, the FSSAI issued orders to withdraw nine versions of Maggi instant noodles and alleged that lab reports showed the noodles were "unsafe for consumption".

Nestle has said the samples tested and found to contain excess lead in Uttar Pradesh, which started the controversy, had expired last November and had been left in the open from January to March.

The court has now given the state and central governments two weeks to file a reply. The matter has been posted for the next hearing on June 30.

Categories: NEWS

23 சதவீதம் பேரின் ரத்தத்தில் காரீய நச்சு : இந்தியா முழுதும் நடத்தப்பட்ட ஆய்வில் ‘பகீர்!’

12,June, 2015 Comments off

புதுடில்லி : கண்ணுக்கே தெரியாமல், உணர்வுகளும் அறியாமல், காரீயம் என்ற நச்சு, நம் உடலில் கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமாக சேர்ந்து, ரத்தத்தை விஷமாக்கி வரும் அதிர்ச்சி தகவலை, உலக சுகாதார அமைப்பான, டபிள்யு.எச்.ஓ., வெளியிட்டு உள்ளது; இதனால், குழந்தைகளின் மூளை வளர்ச்சி பாதிக்கப்பட்டு, அவர்களின் புத்திசாலித்தனம் பாதிக்கப்படும் அபாயம் ஏற்பட்டு உள்ளது.

‘நெஸ்லே இந்தியா’ என்ற நிறுவனத்தின் தயாரிப்பான, ‘மேகி’ நுாடுல்ஸ்சில்,
அனுமதிக்கப்பட்ட அளவை விட அதிகமாக, காரீயம் என்ற நச்சும், எம்.எஸ்.ஜி.,
எனப்படும், ‘மோனோ சோடியம் குளூட்டாமேட்’ என்ற ரசாயனமும் உள்ளதாக, பரிசோதனையில் சமீபத்தில் கண்டறியப்பட்டது.குழந்தைகள் விரும்பி உண்ணும் அந்த உணவில், நச்சு அதிகமாக இருப்பது தெரியவந்ததை அடுத்து, நாடு முழுவதும் பெரும் பரபரப்பு ஏற்பட்டது. மத்திய, மாநில அரசுகளின், உணவு தர அமைப்புகள், மேகி நுாடுல்ஸ்சுக்கு தடை விதித்துள்ளன.

பரிசோதனை:

அந்த பரபரப்பு அடங்குவதற்குள், குழந்தைகள் மட்டு மின்றி, நாட்டு மக்களில், பரிசோதனைக்கு உட்படுத்தப்பட்ட, 733 பேரில், 23 சதவீதம் பேரின் ரத்தத்தில், காரீய நச்சு அதிகரித்து, அதனால் பல உடல் உபாதைகள் ஏற்பட்டு வருவதை, உலக சுகாதார அமைப்பு கண்டறிந்து உள்ளது.ரத்தத்தில் அதிகளவு காரீயம் சேர்ந்ததால், உலகம் முழுவதும், ஆண்டுக்கு, 1.43 லட்சம் பேர் உயிரிழப்பதாக, அதிர்ச்சி தகவலை தெரிவித்துள்ள உலக சுகாதார அமைப்பு, இந்தியா போன்ற வளரும் நாடுகளில், இத்தகைய பாதிப்புகள் அதிகம் என, தெரிவித்து உள்ளது.இந்தியாவில், கடந்த ஆண்டில், நாட்டின் பல பகுதிகளில், 733 பேரிடம், காரீய சோதனை நடத்தப்பட்டது; அவர்களின் ரத்தம், சிறுநீர் போன்றவை ஆய்வுக்கு உட்படுத்தப்
பட்டன; அவர்களில், 23.47 சதவீதம் பேரின் உடலில், காரீய நச்சு அதிகமாக இருந்தது கண்டறியப்பட்டது. கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமாக ரத்தத்தில் சேரும் காரீயம், கொஞ்ச காலத்தில், ரத்தத்தையே நச்சாக மாற்றிவிடும் என, அபாய சங்கை ஊதுகிறது, டபிள்யு.எச்.ஓ., இந்த பாதிப்பு, குழந்தைகளை அதிகம் பாதிக்கும் என்பது, கூடுதல் அதிர்ச்சி தகவலாக உள்ளது.

புத்திசாலித்தனம்:

ரத்தத்தில் காரீயம் அதிகமானால், குழந்தைகளின் புத்திசாலித்தனம் பாதிக்கப்படும். இதை தடுக்க, மத்திய, மாநில அரசுகளும், தன்னார்வ அமைப்புகளும் இணைந்து செயல்பட வேண்டியது அவசியம். காரீயம் அதிகரிப்பது அபாயகரமானது என்ற விழிப்புணர்வை, மக்கள் மத்தியில் ஏற்படுத்த வேண்டியது
மிகவும் அவசியம் என, மருத்துவ வல்லுனர்கள் கூறுகின்றனர்.

பயங்கர பாதிப்பு ஏற்படும்:

குழந்தைகள் விளையாடும் பொம்மைகள் சிலவற்றில், அபாயகரமான காரீய பூச்சு உள்ளது; அதையறியாத பெற்றோர், பொம்மைகளை குழந்தைகளிடம் விளையாட கொடுக்கின்றனர்.
அவற்றை தொட்டு, தடவி, வாயில் வைத்து கடித்து விளையாடும் குழந்தைகளுக்கு, காரீய பாதிப்பு ஏற்படுகிறது. கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமாக குழந்தைகளின் ரத்தத்தில் சேர்ந்து, கொடூரமான பாதிப்பை ஏற்படுத்தும்.அதுபோல, தாய்க்கு அந்த பாதிப்பு இருந்தால், பிரசவத்தின் போது அல்லது பாலுாட்டும் போது, குழந்தைக்கும் அந்த பாதிப்பு பரவும் அபாயம் உள்ளது. காரீய பாதிப்பு கர்ப்பிணி பெண்களுக்கு அதிகமாக இருந்தால், கருச்சிதைவு; இறந்தே குழந்தை பிறப்பது; பிரசவ காலத்திற்கு முன்பே குழந்தை பிறப்பது; குறைந்த எடையில் குழந்தை போன்ற பாதிப்புகள் ஏற்படும். பெண்களுக்கு, உயர் ரத்த அழுத்தம், ஆஸ்டியோபோரோசிஸ், இடுப்பு வலி, மூட்டுகளில் வலி, ரத்தசோகை போன்ற பாதிப்புகள் ஏற்படும் என, தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டு உள்ளது.

மறைந்திருக்கும் எமன் :

இந்தியர்களின் ரத்தத்தில் கலந்துள்ள, காரீயத்தை கண்டறியும் ஆய்வில் ஈடுபட்ட, ‘மெட்ரோபொலிஸ் ஹெல்த்கேர்’ என்ற தனியார் நிறுவனத்தின், நிர்வாகிகளில் ஒருவரான,
டாக்டர் சந்தீப் வார்காடே கூறியதாவது:ரத்தத்தில் அல்லது உடலில் கலந்திருக்கும் காரீயத்தை, எளிதில் கண்டறிய முடியாது; அதற்காக, பல சிரமமான ஆய்வுகளை மேற்கொள்ள வேண்டும். அதுபோல, உடலில் காரீயம் கலந்துள்ளது என்பது, வெளிப்பார்வையிலும் கண்டறிய முடியாது. ஒரு அளவுக்கு மேல், அதன் அளவு அதிகரிக்கும் போது, உயிரிழப்பை ஏற்படுத்தி விடும்.அதற்கு முன், மூளை, நரம்பு மண்டலம் போன்றவற்றை தாக்கி, ‘கோமா’ நிலையில் ஆழ்த்திவிடும்; இந்த பாதிப்பு ஏற்பட்ட பின்தான், காரீயம் அதிகமாக இருந்தது என்பதே தெரியவரும்; அதன்பின், பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்களை காப்பாற்றுவது கடினம்.இவ்வாறு, அவர் கூறினார்.

எந்தெந்த விதங்களில் ரத்தத்தில் சேர்கிறது காரீயம்?

மண்வளம் பாதிக்கப்பட்டு, நச்சாக
மாறிய மண், குடிநீர், பெட்ரோலிய
பொருட்களின் கழிவு, வீட்டில் எஞ்சும் துாசு போன்ற கழிவுகள், பேட்டரி மறுசுழற்சி செய்தல், வெள்ளியை சுத்திகரித்தல், வர்ணங்கள், வர்ணப்பூச்சு, பிரின்டிங் பிரஸ், செராமிக் பாத்திரங்கள், அதன் மீதான வர்ணப் பூச்சு, ஒளிரும் பட்டைகள், ஒளிரும் நிறங்கள் அடங்கிய பொருட்கள், காஸ்மெடிக்ஸ் எனப்படும் அலங்கார
பொருட்கள், கிரயான்ஸ் எனப்படும் வர்ண எழுதுப்பொருட்கள், வர்ணம் பூசப்பட்ட பென்சில்கள் போன்றவற்றில், காரீயம் கலந்துள்ளது; இவை மூலமாக, காரீயம், மனித உடம்பில் ரத்தத்தில் சேர்கிறது.

குழந்தைகளுக்கு ஏற்படும் பாதிப்புகள்:

*கவனக்குறைவு
*புத்திசாலித்தனம் குறைதல்
*படிப்பில் ஆர்வம் இன்மை
*அதிக துருதுருப்பு
*மந்தம்
*கற்றலில் குறைபாடு
*ரத்தசோகை

Categories: NEWS

மேகி மீதான தடையை நீக்க மும்பை உயர்நீதிமன்றம் மறுப்பு

12,June, 2015 Comments off

மேகி நூடுல்ஸ் மீதான தடையை நீக்க மும்பை உயர்நீதிமன்றம் மறுத்துள்ளது.
மேகி நூடுல்ஸ் உணவு பொருட்களில் காரீயமும், ரசாயன உப்பான மோனோ சோடியம் குளுட்டாமேட்டும் சேர்க்கப்பட்டு இருப்பதாக புகார்கள் எழுந்தன. இதையடுத்து, மேகி நூடுல்ஸ்க்கு இந்தியாவின் பல்வேறு மாநிலங்களில் தடை விதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. 
இந்நிலையில், மேகிக்கு விதிக்கப்பட்ட தடையை எதிர்த்து நெஸ்லே நிறுவனம் மும்பை உயர்நீதிமன்றத்தில் வழக்கு தொடர்ந்தது. இந்த மனு மீதான விசாரணை இன்று நடைபெற்ற நிலையில், தடையை நீக்க மும்பை உயர்நீதிமன்றம் மறுத்துவிட்டது. 
நெஸ்லே நிறுவனத்தின் 9 வகையான நூடுல்ஸ்களுக்கு இந்திய உணவு பாதுகாப்பு தர நிர்ணய ஆணையம் விதித்த தடையை நீக்க முடியாது என்று மும்பை நீதிமன்றம் தமது உத்தரவில் தெரிவித்துள்ளது. மேலும், நெஸ்லேவின் மனு தொடர்பாக 2 வாரத்திற்குள் பதில் அளிக்குமாறு மத்திய அரசின் உணவு தர நிர்ணய அமைப்புக்கும் உத்தரவிட்டுள்ளது.

Categories: NEWS

உணவு நிறுவனங்களுக்கு புதிய உத்தரவு

12,June, 2015 Comments off

புதுடில்லி : உணவு பொருள் தயாரிப்பு நிறுவனங்கள் 6 மாதங்களுக்கு ஒருமுறை தங்கள் தயாரிப்புக்களின் பரிசோதனை அறிக்கையை தாக்கல் செய்ய வேண்டும் என இந்திய உணவு பாதுகாப்பு மற்றும் தர நிர்ணய ஆணையம் (எப்.எஸ்.எஸ்.ஏ.ஐ.,) உத்தரவிட்டுள்ளது. மேகி நூடுல்ஸ் விவகாரத்தை அடுத்து உணவு நிறுவனங்களுக்கு இந்த உத்தரவு பிறப்பிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாக கூறப்படுகிறது.

Categories: NEWS

Limca & Fanta bottlers issued notice for selling expired beverage

12,June, 2015 Comments off
 

LUCKNOW: The Bulandshahr district administration on Thursday has issued "fresh notices" to Heinz and the bottlers of Limca and Fanta for selling substandard milk and beverages (which have crossed their expiry date) respectively. Additional district magistrate (administration) of Bulandshahr Vishal Singh said that the administration would continue its drive against the substandard and unsafe food and edible items in days to come.

ADM Vishal Singh, said, "On the basis of the standard of the mixed milk, the sample is about 31% deficient in milk fat, and hence is substandard. As a result, notice has been served to two persons/representatives of M/s Heinz Pvt Ltd under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006." He further stated that selling of substandard food item is a punishable offence under section 52 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Similarly, in the case of Limca and Fanta, even after their expiry dates, the ADM said, "The date of packaging of these bottles is October 19, 2011, and it was best to consume the beverages before April 18, 2012. Hence, it was found to be a case of misbranding." He further stated that when the officials of the bottling plant of Hindustan Coca Cola Ltd (based in Ghaziabad) were informed about this, they blamed the local distributors for the lapses, while the local distributors put the onus on the bottling plant. "They (company officials and distributors) were trying to transport these expired soft drinks to the rural areas, and planning to sell them, as the urban consumer is much more aware about these details than his rural counterpart," added Vishal Singh.

The notices have been served under the relevant provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Both the companies have been given a week’s time to submit their reply, and if they fail to give satisfactory responses, then cases under provisions of the CrPC may also be slapped on them.

On June 8 (Monday), it was the turn of Glucon-D – an energy drink to land in a soup, with insects being detected in 500 gram pack. Following the discovery of insects in the energy drink, the packet has been sent for further examination by the officials.

Confirming the development, food safety officer of Bulandshahr Shiv Dass told TOI, "A packet of the energy drink Glucon-D was purchased by Bablu from the Chowk Bazaar area of the district. After opening it, he found insects in the pack, and alerted us." The food safety officer further stated that 5 packets of the same batch were immediately confiscated from the said shop in Bulandshahr, and all of them have been sent for testing in the Lucknow laboratory. "The report of the Lucknow laboratory is expected to be out in one month’s time," said Shiv Dass Singh.

Citing Bablu, the food safety officer also informed that Bablu along with his family members started vomiting after consuming the product, which was purchased almost two days back. "On subsequent examination, insects were found in the packet," said Shiv Dass Singh. Glucon-D is manufactured by the American pharmaceutical giant, HJ Heinz company, headquartered in Pennyslyvania.

After Maggi — the two-minute noodle snack, it was the turn of Glucon-D – an energy drink, which rejuvenates the body to land in a soup, with insects being detected in 500 gram pack in Bulandshahr district of west Uttar Pradesh. Following the discovery of insects in the energy drink, the packet has been sent for further examination by the officials.

Confirming the development, food safety officer of Bulandshahr Shiv Dass told TOI, "A packet of the energy drink Glucon-D was purchased by Bablu from the Chowk Bazaar area of the district. After opening it, he found insects in the pack, and alerted us." The food safety officer further stated that 5 packets of the same batch were immediately confiscated from the said shop in Bulandshahr, and all of them have been sent for testing in the Lucknow laboratory. "The report of the Lucknow laboratory is expected to be out in one month’s time," said Shiv Dass Singh.

Citing Bablu, the food safety officer also informed that Bablu along with his family members started vomiting after consuming the product, which was purchased almost two days back. "On subsequent examination, insects were found in the packet," said Shiv Dass Singh.

Glucon-D is manufactured by the American pharmaceutical giant, HJ Heinz company, headquartered in Pennyslyvania.

The development certainly comes as a shock for the consumers of such edible products in Uttar Pradesh. On March 10, 2014, a team-led by VK Pandey, designated officer food safety (Faizabad division) had collected a few maggi samples from one retailer in Barabanki.

He had sent the samples to test whether Nestle India was complying with its stated claim that Maggi doesn’t contain MSG. In one test in Gorakhpur, it was proved that MSG was used more than the prescribed level.

Subsequent tests in Kolkata laboratory not only confirmed the presence of MSG in Maggi but also detected dangerously high lead content in the Maggi samples.

It was reported that Maggi samples were contained 17 parts per million against the permissible lead content of 0.01 parts per million. The discovery prompted authorities in other states of the country to determine if Maggi is safe.

Categories: NEWS

Maggi noodles: tale of two test results

12,June, 2015 Comments off
 

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India declared Maggi unsafe for consumption based on the report by Kolkata-based Central Food Laboratory

In contrast to Central Food Lab, a private facility says lead content within permissible levels

KOLKATA, JUNE 11:

If there’s one thing that the entire Maggi ban fiasco has shown up, it is the difference in test results across two labs.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) declared Maggi unsafe for consumption based on the report by the Kolkata-based Central Food Laboratory.

But Nestle challenged the findings, based on test reports by the city-based Edward Food Research & Analysis Centre (EFRAC). The privately-run laboratory declared the lead content in the 800-odd samples of the instant noodles ‘within permissible limits’.

Central Food Laboratory officials refused to divulge details of the tests or the methodology followed. Questions relating to the alleged lapse of accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), also went unanswered.

“I have been specifically instructed not to talk to the media,” AK Adhikari, director CFL, toldBusinessLine.

Balwinder Bajwa, CEO, EFRAC, is however, clear: “I stand by my lab’s reports. We use the most advanced equipment and processes when it comes to food testing, in line with international standards,” he told BusinessLine.

He points out that it should not be made into a case of a private laboratory versus a government lab. The laboratory, he says, is accredited by 12 authorities including NABL. “We are as accredited as any other government laboratory. And there is nothing for us to hide,” he adds.

Testing process

According to Bajwa, while analysing the Maggi samples the laboratory had used ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry), an advanced spectrometer that can trace heavy metals to the smallest level.

After this, the samples were prepared using a “microwave digestion” unit — another advanced equipment. EFRAC did not use a silica crucible or borosilicate glass jar to avoid “lead contamination from external sources”.

The lab (EFRAC) also used “pure” nitric acid (500ml of which costs nearly ₹13,000, as against local varieties at ₹500); while preparing the samples. Use of local nitric acid might lead to variation in results because of presence of impurities, he said.

EFRAC also used ultra pure water, rather than regular/distilled water for tests.

The lab is equipped with software approved by the US FDA (Food and Drugs Administration). “The software is like a black-box in an aeroplane, where no manipulation is possible. [The] Results can be retrieved at any point of time to see whether procedures have been followed or not,” Bajwa said.

Objective process

According to him, to ensure neutrality of tests, the laboratory uses “bar coded” samples making it impossible for the laboratory personnel to identify the client. The name of the client is removed to avoid any manipulation or human intervention, he stressed. EFRAC, as per norms, keep ‘retention samples’ for further independent verification.

According to Bajwa, different methodologies of testing will give different results. “I am not commenting on what the other lab (Central Food Laboratory) did or did not do or should have done. But using even another set of apparatus such as a silica crucible or borosilicate glass jar can lead to a different set of results,” he adds.

Categories: NEWS

State to impose curbs on sale of pesticides to farmers

12,June, 2015 Comments off
 

Prescriptions Needed To Buy Chemicals

Reacting to concerns about excessive use of pesticides on vegetable and fruit farms in Tamil Nadu, the state agricultural department has decided to impose restrictions on sale of pesticides and insecticides by private outlets.

Farmers, hereafter, will have to produce `prescriptions’ or recommendations from local horticultural or agricultural officers to purchase pesticides from dealers. A formal order is expected soon. “Though the majority of farmers consult our field officers, insistence on prescriptions to purchase pesticides will heighten accountability, both that of our officials and farmers,“ said a senior official.

The department has also decided to insist that private pesticide retail outlets and government-run agricultural extension centres display lists of banned pesticides and insecticides to educate farmers.

These steps have been taken following a report from Kerala’s food safety department which sent a team to inspect farms across nine districts in TN in May . The report cited indis criminate use of pesticides even three to five times more han the permissible limit.

Since TN is a major supplier of agricultural produce to Kera a, the latter has imposed curbs on movement of agri commodi ies from TN. It has also written o TN raising concerns abou unsafe agricultural practices.

The Kerala team’s survey showed that chemicals which could have neurological or car cinogenic implications when sprayed in excess, were being used indiscriminately . Pesti cides such as furadan, mono chrottophos, acephate, poly rine are used by potato, carrot cabbage and banana growers . TN’s agriculture department has therefore begun an ex ercise to ensure that field level officers keep a close watch on farming activities in their jurisdiction and also advise farmers on best practices.

While admitting to the prob lem, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association general secretary S Ranganathan said, “The government’s decision to introduce prescriptions for farmers is a welcome move.Such a monitoring mechanism will allay Kerala’s fears. Irresponsible application of pesticides based on the advice of local pesticide traders should not be encouraged.“

Categories: NEWS