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Startup 12 Sep 2015

How Maggi scare opened Govt eyes to rethink food safety

“We have made sure about the quality of the food and that proper information is given to our consumers,” said Dave.

Since food safety concern is increasing day by day, the FSSAI has increased surveillance to act against entities selling contaminated packaged food, drinking water, adulterated milk and edible oils.

Following the Maggi muddle, the authorities have started to be strict to those entities which are found to be non-compliant with the food safety norms.

In the last few months, food safety has raised serious health concerns. Commenting on the same, Sanjay Dave, Ex Advisor, FSSAI & Ex chairperson, Codex Alimentarius Commission, said, “Consumer has the right to have safe food and this will also lead to a decline in food borne or waterborne diseases in our country.”

“It is Nestle which has opened our ears and eyes and even of our faculty members, towards the food adulteration act 2006,” shared Mamta Binnai, Vice President, ICSI, as Nestle noodles was at the centre of the country's food scare in the month of May when the local regulators reported some packets of the popular noodles, sold at roadside stalls across India, contained unsafe levels of lead. The major violations noted is the presence of Lead detected in the product in excess of the maximum permissible levels of 2.5 ppm, misleading labelling information on the package reading “No added MSG” and release of a non-standardised food product in the market, i.e. “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” without risk assessment and grant of product approval.

Biswajit Das, Advocate, Supreme Court of India said, “Maggie case in the Bombay High Court is one of the burning issues which have to bring about consultative process to improve in food regulation. According to me, there is an ambiguity in it and clarity of subject is important.” 

On 5th June, an order was passed to the instant noodle maker, retailers and distributors to stop the sale of Maggi noodles from the market for food safety issues and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the Bombay High Court's verdict will not affect the government's case claiming Rs 640 crore in damages from Nestle for misleading advertisement and unfair trade practices.

The safety of all such products has not been assessed as per the Product Approval procedures. Pawan Dubey, Partner, Lex Boloster Global LLP says, “We find the regulatory system is not the same as witnessed during our practice. After enquiry, there is a huge difference in the approach.” The central food safety body has taken steps to ensure conformity of standards by various products in the market after the Maggi chaos.

According to the latest ruling, Nestle again can start making Maggi noodles in India from October paving the way for the snack to go back on sale by the end of the year. Therefore, the government will take the most appropriate and necessary steps in the best interest of the consumers.

“We have made sure about the quality of the food and that proper information is given to our consumers,” said Dave.

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