Sunday, 7 June 2015

How maggie Banned ? - The Story of the fact

Sanjay Singh, the workaholic Food Safety Officer of UP asked his subordinates to pick up samples of a few edibles including packed food and sent them for routine tests to Laboratory. One of the items collected for test was Nestle’s most popular snack Maggi.  

Maggie Story: How maggie Banned ?

A few samples of chips and spices were also picked up from local shops in Barabanki, a district close to Lucknow. The sealed samples were then parcelled to the government Lab in Gorakhpur. What happened afterwards  is now a history for Sanjay Singh.

Speaking on phone from his office in Barabanki,  the most talked about officer these days in UP, Sanjay said that tests reports of Gorakhpur Lab about Maggi caught him by surprise.” At first I thought the report could be a typing error by  someone who prepared the report for us.. But later when I re-confirmed  I was surprised to discover that Maggi contained a high level of ‘lead’ and MSG(monosodium glutamate). I informed my seniors about the content of the report,” Sanjay Singh told India Samvad.

In fact Sanjay was still not convinced with the report as the sample in question was a product like Maggi, a household name and one of the most sought after snack by children.” My perception about  Nestle was that the company produced  a high quality of edibles  and conformed to all norms of food safety. So how can a product like Maggi contain lead and MSG. To ensure that our lab had not committed in any error I decided to pick up more samples of Maggi and send them again to Lab for a test.,” Sanjay added.

Keeping in mind the brand name that Nestle has in the market, the officer sent samples picked up from a super-market called ‘Easyday’ for another check in the same laboratory.  Shockingly, the results were the same once again. He then notified Nestle about the irregularities which challenged the tests and demanded a fresh test in the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata. The results were still the same when the test was conducted at the laboratory in Kolkata.

When Sanjay was asked why did he picked up only Maggi for such  routine tests, the officer said that it was a random decision of my subordinates.” I just asked them to collect samples of instant food packets. They went to a nearby Tehsil shop and picked up Maggi packets. Let me make it  clear,  the issue became bigger because in  the repeat tests the samples tested positive for lead and MSG. To ensure that other brand of noodles should also be put to tests,  we have now  sent samples of  other brands like Yippie of ITC, Knorr of Hindustan Lever and Foodles of Smithkline. We have not been selective. Initially we collected packets of  Maggi as it is  one of the most sought after snack food.” Sanjay explained for being unbiased.

Sanjay Singh, the man who is behind the expose of high levels of hazardous chemicals in Maggi is not proud of what he has done. He  told  that it was part of his job and he does not deserve any kind of appreciation for his deeds. Singh has been posted as a Food Safety Officer in Barabanki since 2013. The officer hails from the city of Lucknow. He holds a PHD in chemistry from Lucknow University and an MSC in organic chemistry from Lucknow Christian College. The man started his career in Food Safety Office in 1998.

He told India Samvad that the process took a long time but the file had been moving at its usual pace. He also blamed the Postal Services for delaying the delivery of the sample of Maggi Noodles as the parcel landed up in Shimla instead of reaching Kolkata. He emphasized on the fact that these things have to go through a proper channel and hence the delay was caused. He also told India Samvad that the case was registered under Section 59. (1) with the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate. The penalty for the offence is imprisonment up to six months and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Singh also added that lead is an accumulative poison and if consumed can be extremely harmful for the Central Nervous System and does irreparable damage while MSG is highly cancerous. He also added that high levels of lead and MSG can lead to increased aggression amongs consumers. He also blamed increased consumption of fast-food for the increasing crime rate in the country, and especially amongs youngsters.

The fact remains that at the end of these teats a fast food noodles market worth over Rs 1300 crore in the country has been hit hard by this officer. Sanjay’s two tests have destroyed the two minute noodle rip off.

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