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Everything You Need to Know About the Ban on MAGGI (It’s Back!)

How did this controversy begin?

This entire scandal began when the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) in Lucknow ordered that samples of Maggi be tested in Gorakhpur. These samples were tested for the second time at the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata. This second test showed that the noodles had high levels of MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) and lead in them.

How is MSG and Lead harmful to the body?

Extra quantities of MSG and lead may not seem dangerous at first glance because their effects on the body can only be seen after a certain amount of time.

MSG is the substance which is generally added to Chinese food to make it appear tastier.  It can naturally be found in tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms. It doesn’t have any impact when consumed in small quantities. However, the amount of Maggi consumed by us Indians is nowhere close to small. People who consume extra MSG often have the following effects on their body: weakness in the limbs, allergies such as hives, headaches, burning sensations (especially in the mouth, head and neck region) and an upset stomach.

These may not look like serious effects; however the cumulative effect is dangerous to the body. When the MSG content rises to what is known as the ’threshold sensitivity’, the body becomes excessively sensitive. The next time that person will consume MSG, their body will instantly have a reaction.

Lead is not required by the body for any function, hence when it accumulates in the body it causes great damage. It gets deposited in organs such as the brain, liver, kidney and even to the bones. It also gets deposited in the nervous and reproductive systems. It can cause hormonal changes and bloating in the body.

 

How did the ban take place?

After these levels of MSG and lead were found in the noodles, the Indian government ordered Nestle to stop further production of Maggi. This order was given on the 5th of June and was operational by June 7th. Nestle had to undergo three steps in order to ban Maggi:

The first step was to stop distributing Maggi at the warehouses and distribution centres. The second step was to block the orders of Nestles 1400 distributors. The third step was to bring back the existing stock from the distributors, customers and consumers. This was the most complicated step and was carried out in multiple ways.

Firstly, the cartons were dealt with. Nestle had to buy back the cartons and packets that were with both the retailers and the consumers. Secondly, Nestle had to arrange for trucks to pick up the noodles from all across India. The number of trucks that would be required by them to transport all the Maggi was 2500. Thirdly, the Maggi that was collected had to be destroyed. This was done in cement kilns. The Maggi noodles were mixed with fuel and subjected to high temperatures to destroy it. Lastly, Nestle had to handle multiple cash and credit transactions. They had enforced measures to make sure that customers could easily access information about withdrawal from the company.

Why was the ban lifted?

Maggi samples were tested extensively across India and even outside it. More than 2700 samples, which represent more than 16.5 crore packets of Maggi, had been tested. These tests concluded that the amount of lead that was found in the Maggi was within the safety limits. Maggi was specially checked in laboratories in Bombay, Karnataka and Gujarat and all the three governments said that the ban would be lifted by them.

The Karnataka minister said that since there was no clarity on what the permissible amount of MSG was, they had to remove the ban on Maggi. It was not only India but also countries such as the USA, UK, Australia and Singapore that conducted tests on Maggi and declared it safe for consumption.

Why is everyone so happy that Maggi is back?

The day that Maggi came back into the market, there was a nationwide celebration. People posted pictures all over Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. I doubt the celebration was so great when Ram came back from his exile. There is a deep love that us Indians feel for Maggi.It is that one dish that is eaten by nearly everyone in the nation. We could even call it the national food of India.

If someone is tired after a day’s work and is in no mood to cook a meal, they can take out two minutes from their schedule and cook Maggi. If a teenager comes home early and his or her parents aren’t home, they have enough skills to make Maggi for themselves. Maggi is the first thing that most of us learnt to cook at home and thanks to the removal of the ban, we can still continue to do so.Welcome back into our lives Maggi, we’ve missed you.

Sanaa Mehra

Written by Sanaa Mehra

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