While the Pune division of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will confirm whether Nestle’s product Maggie is edible or not by Friday, the two-minute noodles has not yet disappeared from the shelves of stores in the city. Several general stores across the city have yet to stop the sale while outlets of More For You super market and D-Mart have decided not to stock Maggi noodles.
Shashikant Kekare, Joint Commissioner FDA, Pune division, told Newsline that as many as 15 samples have been collected from various parts of Pune division and sent to the public health laboratory for testing. The reports are awaited by Friday, he said.
Amid the growing controversy over high monosodium glutamate (MSG), commonly known as ajinomoto a taste enhancer, and high lead content found in Maggi samples in Gorakhpur and subsequent ban on sale of the product in Delhi, FDA offices in other states have also sent samples for lab tests.
Harshdeep Kamble, FDA commissioner in the state, told Newsline that there was no ban as yet on sale and reports were awaited from the laboratories.
However, the media coverage about this controversy has led FDA officials to issue oral instructions to distributors to restrict the sale to the general consumer.
For some store owners, though, the controversy has not majorly impacted the sale of the product.
Manish Chandan, owner of Chandan Mini market at M G Road, says, “The recent revelation has not impacted the sale of product in any way. Students, who are regular consumers of Maggi, are indifferent even after it was labelled harmful. However, apart from them, nobody else is buying Maggi. The product’s popularity went down a long time ago and Wai Wai, Knorr have replaced it. The suppliers have told us that a meeting has been held to make a decision over the fate of Maggi and the possible outcome is ban on the product. But it won’t really cost us.”
However, Dhanesh Misal, sales executive at More For You supermarket in Kothrud, said that all their outlets of More For You across Pune had sealed the Maggi stock when the news first broke.
“They’ve not purchased the product for over a week now. Out of every 500 people who visit this supermarket, 30-40 used to buy Maggi. But since the news broke out, we’ve not received a single customer enquiring about Maggi. In fact, the demand for noodles has gone down altogether,” Misal said.
Rohit Gaekwad, senior floor officer of D-Mart at Hadapsar, said, “After receiving the news today, our store manager has taken a decision to stop selling the product . We do not want to take any risks.”
Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Centre for Science and Environment, however, has welcomed the food authorities’ initiative in testing processed food for contaminants like heavy metals in the context of the ongoing controversy on Maggi noodles. “Children fall victim to such advertisements as they are not mature enough to make the right food choice. Mandatory control over such advertisement is also needed,” he said.
In students’ city, Maggi the staple sorely missed
Nineteen-year-old Shashwati Jha, who hails from Bihar, has been staying in Pune for the past one year in a rented flat she shares with two of her friends. Maggi noodles, she says, is something they rely on almost on a daily basis. From the time the controversy has begun, the parents’ of these friends have warned them against eating Maggi. “Currently, we are doing with ready-to-cook upma and pohe. But yes, we are missing our favourite noodles that had made staying away from our parents so much easier,” says Pratiksha Roy, Jha’s flat mate. Anuja Phadke of Fergusson College says, “I eat it a lot, our canteen has it… Even with the ban, I am still tempted to eat it. I have a six-pack of Maggi at home right now. I’ve been eating it for 20 years, nothing bad happened to me! It is the go-to food for us students.”
Saee Tamhankar of ILS Law College says, “They should come up with some product that is exactly the same. Something you can cook in 2 minutes, which would keep away hunger during midnights and long cultural club practice sessions…”