FSSAI and Maggi controversy

How it all began:

In June 2015, Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) found out that Maggi, a Nestle product was hazardous and unsafe for human consumption as it contained high levels of Lead (Pb) and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). But Nestle said that the 2700 samples it tested came back with certification of safety as lead was far below permissible level and MSG was never added to Maggi and the presence could only be due to its natural occurrence.

The product went off the shelves due to the ban by the government of individual states and also due to the fearful environment. Before Nestle, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s and Burger King have also been in controversy.

What is Lead?

Lead is a chemical element with symbol Pb. It can be harmful to human beings when inhaled or ingested as it can cause serious consequences. It can cause headache, abdominal pain, coma and even death. It has more adverse effect on neurological development of children.

What is MSG?

Monosodium Glutamate also known as MSG, is sodium salt of glutamic acid which are non-essential amino acids not required by our body. It is a flavour enhancer mostly used in Chinese food and soups. It also occurs naturally in food like cheese, tomatoes etc but in negligible traces. It have effects like sweating, headache, numbness, weakness and can also be dangerous if consumed during pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage.

What is FSSAI?

Food Safety and Standard Authority of India has been established under Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006. FSSAI works in the regulation of manufacturing, storing, distribution, sale and import to ensure the safe food availability for human consumption. Now, in the latest context, FSSAI have reportedly finalized 12,000 standards for ingredients which are under global safety and quality standards. If so, once enforced, companies will not have to seek the product approval if they follow these standards. Also, the option of random sampling will be available to FSSAI to check the quality of any product whenever they want.

But till now, there is adverse fallout in the FSSAI’s actions. Nearly 500+ products are awaiting the approval of launch from FSSAI from over one year due to their lengthy approval.

What now:

Now Bombay High Court have unbanned the Maggi on the basis that proper opportunity was not provided to Nestle before imposing ban on its product and also tests were not conducted in accredited laboratories. Also it ordered to test the samples according to proper norms.

Controversy:

FSSAI, our food regulating body should have been equipped with full facts rather than half information before imposing ban on Maggi and creating fearful environment. If food regulators like FSSAI are unable to follow proper norms and then take poor decisions, then it is hard for the consumers to have faith in these bodies. Also, there is loss in the revenue and reputation of the affected company.

Later, if ban is even removed it takes time to build the confidence by both industry and consumers in the company whose product was under ban.

Conclusion:

It is obvious that the most of the citizens of this generation while buying the food products check the FSSAI mark on it for their safety from food adulteration. But if food regulatory bodies like FSSAI will act poorly, how can the consumers believe that the product they are going to consume is up to the mark. There should be norms before banning a particular product such that every aspect of it should be verified and if serious trouble is found within the product after all the verification, then the ban should be imposed. Because all this banning and then unbanning, just confuses the citizens whether the product is up to the mark or not.

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