It is most unlikely that the world's largest food company, which sells the same Maggi products in a majority of the countries in the world, would need to add lead to its product in India. Such an allegation has not been made against this company in any other country in the world.
--By Victor I Joseph
The recent tangle that Maggi Noodles is in is a very complicated one. The following questions arise in my mind when I try to untangle this whole mystery as I am a die-hard fan of Maggi and want to actually know the truth behind this sloppy affair. There are many noodle companies in Nepal and in the self-interest of one and all, we need to know the naked truth. Are these products really harmful to human health or is this the vested interest of a certain few to garner publicity or financial gains?
Before going further, I would like to make a disclaimer that I have no interest financially or otherwise in Nestle. Nor has anyone from Nestle spoken to me and I do not know anyone in that company.
So, what I have written are my own thoughts that were provoked by the current imbroglio that Maggi finds itself in.
Before condemning Maggi, it is only fair to consider some of the possibilities that could have led to this event.
One possibility is that the ban has presumed (rightly or wrongly) that indeed lead had been added to the product. A second possibility is that there was some mix-up in the test methods used. The third possibility is that some competitor or disgruntled employee has done something to malign the company and its product.
A fourth possibility is that someone with ill intentions has pilfered packaging material from Nestle's packing suppliers and then filled the same with a spurious product. This is very common in Nepal, to tarnish the image of big companies for vested interests.
My belief in favour of Maggi is based on the following reasons:
It is most unlikely that the world's largest food company, which sells the same Maggi products in a majority of the countries in the world, would need to add lead to its product in India. This allegation has not been made against this company in any other country in the world, including several countries that have greater food safety awareness and possibly more sophisticated testing procedures than we have in India. Even in India, several states have banned it while others like West Bengal have given it the green signal.
For instance, as reported in The Economic Times of June 10, the relevant government authority in Singapore has cleared Maggi noodles imported from India. Singapore has some of the strictest standards in matters such as food safety.
Nepal is a country that is largely dependent on imported goods, especially packaged food items. Even 10 per cent of these products are not lab-tested by relevant authorities. The food and health departments just do the mandatory random checks on MRP and expiry dates of products.
Noodles is the staple diet of every Nepali in the rural and well as urban areas, among the rich as well as the poor. What we really have to look into is the harmful effects of all kinds of junk and fast food and drinks. We all know that white flour (Maida), Palm Oil, MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) and preservatives are harmful if consumed regularly. We cannot avoid such food products. However, we must not make these a part of our every day staple diet.
Let’s maintain a balance on what we consume and check our food habits regularly as this is the only solution to untangle this sloppy situation. Whether we like it or not, packaged food is going to be part of our everyday diet. So, in the best interests of the consumers and the manufacturers, the negotiating point is BALANCE. Consumers must balance their daily intake of packaged food and manufacturers must balance the use of preservatives and other taste enhancers to permissible limits, following the guidelines set by the concerned regulatory bodies.
The author has been in the field of Sales & Marketing in various capacities in leading organizations in Nepal for the last 20 years.