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Delhi Bans Maggi For 15 Days; Complaint Filed With NCDRC

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Sale of instant noodles Maggi, a popular product of Nestle India, was on Wednesday (3 June) banned in the national capital for 15 days as Delhi government found it "unsafe" for consumption due to excessive lead even as it decided to carry out lab test of all other noodles.
 
As Maggi is faces problems, other food companies are also preparing how to cope with this issue, which has once again brought food safety to the centre stage. The West Bengal government said it has ordered tests on Maggi noodles as well as on popular snacks manufactured by other companies. "We had also got complaints about Kurkure and Lays so we are getting those tested as well," state Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pande said.

In further troubles for Nestle over Maggi issue, the government has filed a complaint on its own with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) -- using a provision for the first time from the nearly three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act.
 
Describing the alleged lapses related to food safety standards in Maggi noodles as a "serious issue", Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also said that the NCDRC will investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
 
"We cannot say at this point of time, what exact action NCDRC will take," he added.
 
Paswan also said that rising fast food consumption may have health risk.
 
The Delhi Government also directed the Indian arm of the Swiss multinational giant to withdraw Maggi stocks from the Delhi market within 15 days after which laboratory test will be conducted on fresh stocks and a decision will be taken whether it can be sold.
 
The decision to ban sale of Maggi came after Delhi Health Department was not satisfied with explanation of Nestle India on authorities finding "lead beyond permissible limit" in the noodle samples lifted from across the city.
 
"Government has put a ban on Maggi noodles for 15 days. We have asked Nestle India to withdraw Maggi stocks within 15 days. We will carry out lab testing of fresh stocks and a decision will be taken thereafter," Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain told reporters in Delhi.
 
Jain said government will file a case against Nestle India in court as per provisions of the Food Adulteration Act and will "not compromise" on issues relating to health safety.
 
He said government will also carry out lab testing of all other noodles brands available in the city and will take action based on the reports.
 
Earlier a group of officials from Nestle India explained to Jain about their position on the issue insisting that they the Maggi noodles were not harmful for consumption.
 
Yesterday, the Delhi government had said that it found samples of Maggi noodles "unsafe" for consumption as it contained lead beyond the permissible level in Maggi masala (tastemaker).
 
According to officials, a total of 13 samples of masala (tastemaker) were lifted by authorities from various areas of the city last week of which 10 were found unsafe.
 
Five samples of masala were also having monosodium glutamate without proper label declaration which is an offence under the category of misbranding, they said.
 
A number of states including Kerala and Haryana have initiated steps on the Maggi issue.
 
The probe into alleged lapses of food safety standards has already been expanded to test Maggi noodle samples from across the country following detection of monosodium glutamate and lead in excess of the prescribed limit in the noodles.
 
However, Nestle India claimed it has got samples tested in an external laboratory as well as in-house and that the product was found "safe to eat". .
 
Nestle's Troubles In India
Trouble continues to brew for Maggi in India. After excess lead was found through lab tests, on Tuesday (2 June) a Nestle made baby food product, Nan,  was found to be containing live larvae in Tamil Nadu.
 
Hitting an all time low in Sensex and Nifty for consecutive two days, Nestle's sale has tanked further down on reports of its contaminated baby food formula. 
 
"In cities like Mumbai, 25 per cent of people do not eat at home. With rise in consumption of fast food items, there is also risk of health. Maggi is eaten maximum by children," said Paswan.
 
Usually, NCDRC comes into play following complaints filed by a consumer, but a section of this Act of 1986 also provides for the government to register a complaint.
 
"For the first time, we are taking action under Section 12-1-D of the Consumer Protection Act, under which both Centre and states have powers to file complaints," Paswan said.
 
This particular section deals with the manner in which a complaint can be made before NCDRC.
 
It states that "a complaint in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided may be filed by ... the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of the consumers in general."
 
While the government has already asked central food safety regulator FSSAI to look into the matter, it had earlier said that NCDRC would look into this issue if a complaint is filed.
 
"Since there would be delay in getting FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) reports and since it is concerned about consumers, we decided to file a written complaint before NCDRC in the interest of consumers," Paswan told reporters here.
 
Neanwhile, The World Health Organization2 and the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization had closely studied the effect of MSG and placed it in the safest category for food additives. The National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI)3 in a separate report ‘Glutamate - Its applications in food and contribution to health’ stated that glutamate serves some functions in the body as well, serving as an energy source for certain tissues and as a substrate for glutathione synthesis.
 


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