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Archive for 22,October, 2015

Uttarakhand’s ban on Maggi to continue for some time

22,October, 2015 Comments off
 

Even as the Karnataka and Gujarat governments have lifted the ban on sale of Maggi noodles, the Uttarakhand government is not in a hurry to lift the ban on production and sale of Maggi noodles. Nestle’s largest manufacturing facility for Maggi in India is located at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand.

Surendra Singh Negi, health minister, Uttarakhand, said the government would wait for the hearing on November 3 in the Uttarakhand High Court at Nainital, pertaining to the Maggi noodles case.

He said the government was also seeking legal advice.

The Uttarakhand food safety department had in June imposed a blanket ban on production of Maggi noodles from the Pantnagar plant, as well as on the marketing and sale in the hill state, after samples of the popular food product failed laboratory tests.

According to the notification issued by food safety commissioner Om Prakash, the ban was to remain in force for 90 days.

However, legal experts say the state government cannot take a decision unless the Uttarakhand High Court takes up the issue on November 3.

"The case is still sub judice as far as the Maggi controversy is concerned," said a top government official.

Nestle had started production of Maggi noodles in 2006 from the Pantnagar factory to take benefit of various incentives available in the state. The plant has been closed since the June ban.

Categories: NEWS

Maggi episode reinforces need for upgrading food safety standards

22,October, 2015 Comments off
 

The tests done on Maggi at three government-accredited laboratories — in Hyderabad, Jaipur and Mohali — have vindicated the stand of Nestle chief executive officer Paul Bulcke, who had said at the time of the ban on the fast-food that there was no excessive lead in it.

The laboratories, under instructions from the Bombay high court, found the lead content below the permissible limits in all the 90 samples sent to it. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had banned Maggi in June. However, quashing the ban in August, the court said: “Principles of natural justice have not been followed before passing the impugned order and on that ground alone impugned orders are liable to be set aside, particularly when the petitioner (Nestle India), had given a press release that it had recalled the product …” The court had also said the food labs under the FSSAI were not “authorised” to do the tests.

This gives rise to many worrying problems. If the action of the FSSAI in performing the basic tests has been called into question by the court, it’s time for the government and the minister concerned, Ram Vilas Paswan, to take immediate action. After all it was Mr Paswan who had ordered the tests on Maggi. The UP Food and Drug Administration, the first organisation to raise an alarm over Maggi, on its part also did some tests. And if according to the court the FSSAI labs are not authorised to perform the tests, then who is supposed to do them? Did the FSSAI not do due diligence?

The matter had been referred also to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Not much was heard thereafter. Shortly before the quashing of the ban by the court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly asked his colleagues not to make “unnecessary fuss over the ban” till all the facts came to light. In that case, why was the ban imposed in the first place, more so in view of the fact that Nestle had agreed to recall the Maggi packets?

This paper had said at the time of the ban that India’s entire food chain was toxic and probably it might even be too late now to reverse the trend. After all that has happened since then, it must be reiterated that not only the regulator but also the consumer and manufacturer are made aware of the rules, and the food-testing laboratory infrastructure and skills strengthened and upgraded.

Categories: NEWS

Maggi episode reinforces need for upgrading food safety standards

22,October, 2015 Comments off
 

The tests done on Maggi at three government-accredited laboratories — in Hyderabad, Jaipur and Mohali — have vindicated the stand of Nestle chief executive officer Paul Bulcke, who had said at the time of the ban on the fast-food that there was no excessive lead in it.

The laboratories, under instructions from the Bombay high court, found the lead content below the permissible limits in all the 90 samples sent to it. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had banned Maggi in June. However, quashing the ban in August, the court said: “Principles of natural justice have not been followed before passing the impugned order and on that ground alone impugned orders are liable to be set aside, particularly when the petitioner (Nestle India), had given a press release that it had recalled the product …” The court had also said the food labs under the FSSAI were not “authorised” to do the tests.

This gives rise to many worrying problems. If the action of the FSSAI in performing the basic tests has been called into question by the court, it’s time for the government and the minister concerned, Ram Vilas Paswan, to take immediate action. After all it was Mr Paswan who had ordered the tests on Maggi. The UP Food and Drug Administration, the first organisation to raise an alarm over Maggi, on its part also did some tests. And if according to the court the FSSAI labs are not authorised to perform the tests, then who is supposed to do them? Did the FSSAI not do due diligence?

The matter had been referred also to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Not much was heard thereafter. Shortly before the quashing of the ban by the court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly asked his colleagues not to make “unnecessary fuss over the ban” till all the facts came to light. In that case, why was the ban imposed in the first place, more so in view of the fact that Nestle had agreed to recall the Maggi packets?

This paper had said at the time of the ban that India’s entire food chain was toxic and probably it might even be too late now to reverse the trend. After all that has happened since then, it must be reiterated that not only the regulator but also the consumer and manufacturer are made aware of the rules, and the food-testing laboratory infrastructure and skills strengthened and upgraded.

Categories: NEWS

Act against officials okaying unsafe food products, U.P. told

22,October, 2015 1 comment
A sting operation had allegedly shown officials demanding bribes

The Centre on Wednesday sought a detailed report from Uttar Pradesh government and directed it to take action against the guilty in a sting operation by a TV channel which allegedly showed officials demanding bribes to approve unsafe food products.

This comes after Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda took cognizance of the matter and directed officials to take up the issue with state officials while stating that there is “zero” tolerance against corruption.

Following this, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued an advisory to the U.P. chief secretary seeking a report and to ensure the establishment of a review and monitoring mechanism to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the state.

“There is zero tolerance against corruption in the Health Ministry,” the Minister said even as he told officials that the Centre will provide all necessary assistance to the state.

On Tuesday, a leading television channel had conducted a sting operation in which it claimed that food safety officers demanded bribe for approving sale of various food products.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry statement said that FSSAI has clarified that the officials who have figured in the sting operation are not working in FSSAI but are employees of the state government.

The FSSAI advisory by its chairman Ashish Bahuguna, which is in possession of PTI, said that the sting operation not only depicts the food safety department and state government in “poor” light but also casts a shadow over FSSAI’s “concerted” efforts to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

“I shall be grateful if you could kindly direct your officers to send me a detailed report on the above incident and take the strongest possible action against official found guilty of corrupt practices… and ensure the establishment of a review and monitoring mechanism so as to prevent recurrence of such cases in the future,” the FSSAI advisory said.

Sources in the Health Ministry said that immediately after the matter came to light, Mr Nadda took stock of the situation and issued directives to officials to look into the matter.

“There is zero tolerance against corruption in the Health Ministry,” says Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda

Categories: NEWS

Food body to ask labs to share Maggi test reports

22,October, 2015 1 comment
 

Days after Nestle India kicked-off its relaunch campaign for Maggi, claiming that their product was safe based on test results from some laboratories, the country’s food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has decided to direct the laboratories to share the recent Maggi test reports.

Nestle India claimed that Maggi has cleared all tests prescribed by the court after the court in August asked Nestle to get samples tested at specified laboratories to ensure that they conform to safety standards.

Ashish Bahuguna, chairperson, FSSAI, told this newspaper that the details of the analyses had so far not been shared with FSSAI by either Nestle or the laboratories. “Though Nestle is claiming that their product is safe, nonetheless our concern is that whatever are the results, we should be informed about them. We have decided to write to the laboratories to share the results,” he said.

FSSAI had in June this year ordered Maggi to be recalled after tests in some laboratories had shown lead levels above the permissible limit. Nestle India, which manufactures Maggi, challenged the ban in the Bombay high court. In August the court lifted the ban but asked the company to get the samples tested at specified laboratories. Nestle recently approached the court claiming that the laboratories had cleared the samples. Soon the manufacturers launched a campaign explaining that all is well with their product as around 3,500 samples of noodles were put to rigorous tests in India and in countries like Australia, UK, Canada, the US and Singapore.

A “comeback” doesn’t look easy, though. Three days after the news broke, Maharashtra food and civil supplies minister Girish Bapat had announced the decision to challenge the lifting of the ban.

FSSAI chairperson Ashish Bahuguna said the company will have to wait for some more time. “We are not challenging the decision of the court. But the manufacturers look in a hurry to get their product back. It is a matter of procedure, and, at the end of the day, we are concerned about the safety of the product. If the laboratories confirm that the product is safe, Nestle is free to manufacture,” added Mr Bahuguna.

Categories: NEWS