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Maggi row: States send food inspectors on surprise swoops to collect samples

Army directs its canteens to set aside existing stock; retail major Future Group to stop selling product at its Big Bazaar outlets across India.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: June 4, 2015 12:39:41 pm
maggi, maggi noodles, maggi issue, maggi news, maggi row, maggi ban, ban on maggi, maggi noodles side effects, maggi noodles india, Nestle India The 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.

With test batches of Maggi instant noodles from some states returning reports pointing to dangerous levels of lead, several others sent their food inspectors on surprise swoops to collect random samples.

Even the Army asked its personnel to avoid eating Maggi and directed over 1,000 military canteens to set aside the existing stock until further orders.

Himachal Pradesh officials went cracking to pick samples in several districts, including Solan, while putting the dealers on notice. Apart from Maggi, samples of chocolates and some dairy products were also collected.

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Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Food safety), Vineet Chawdhry, said: “Necessary instructions have been passed on to the Directorate of Health and Food Safety and they are on the job to comply with directions of the Government of India. I have been informed about collection of samples. They will be tested as per prescribed norms.”

In Rajasthan, the Vasundhara Raje government instructed all district health authorities to conduct five inspections and collect two samples of Maggi noodles everyday, during a week-long drive — from June 4 to June 10 — to test Maggi samples. Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said that if collected samples are found to be harmful, the government will consider banning Maggi in the state.

A joint near Dehradun that serves Maggi lies deserted. A joint near Dehradun that serves Maggi lies deserted.

The Tarun Gogoi government in Assam said that it was awaiting the state heath department’s report on the alleged hazardous content in Maggi and would decide on necessary action thereafter. “The government will take a decision on banning Maggi once the laboratory reports are available,” a release quoting the chief minister said.

The Arunachal Pradesh Health Secretary, Indra Mallo, too said that samples from different districts were being examined and necessary action will follow.

The controversy spurred the West Bengal Consumer Affairs department to examine samples of several other packaged food products and beverages in the state-owned laboratories. Samples of popular snacks, ‘Kurkure’ and ‘Lay’s’ were also collected for testing.

“Once, the results come, it will be placed before Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for necessary direction and action,” said Sadhan Pande, West Bengal’s Minister for Consumer Affairs. While the results are expected within four days, state’s Food and Supplies Minister, Jyotipriyo Mullick, insists that the state government is in no position to ban Maggi. “We are just a marketing destination and not a manufacturing destination,” he said. However, many shopping malls went ahead and removed Maggi stocks form their shelves in the state.

In another blow to Nestle India, retail major Future Group decided to stop selling the instant noodles at its Big Bazaar outlets across India.

But as Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana joined the list of states putting Maggi samples under scanner, there was some good news for Nestle India from Maharashtra, Kerala and Goa.

The Maharashtra government said there have been no negative reports about the samples tested by it so far, while Goa also said the samples drawn from state’s markets did not have any ingredients which are harmful.

A day after Kerala decided to temporarily stop the sale of Maggi noodles, samples tested at a lab in Kochi showed that the lead content was below permissible limit.

Chandigarh administration, meanwhile, issued orders to collect more samples even though some samples, already tested, were found as per food safety standards.

In a related development, a court in Jalore registered a complaint against actors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preiry Zinta — all brand ambassadors of Maggi noodles — besides Nestle India MD Etienne Benet. Amid the raging controversy, shares of Nestle India tumbled 9 per cent on Wednesday, wiping-out Rs 5,942 crore from its market valuation.

(WITH INPUTS FROM ENS IN RAJASTHAN, HIMACHAL, WEST BENGAL, ASSAM, ARUNACHAL AND PTI)

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