Panaji: In more trouble for Nestle’s ‘Maggi’ instant noodles, Goa today became the 11th state to impose a ban on its sale even as Centre indicated that more fast food products could be probed.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar announced the ban on Maggi, which is at the centre of a raging nationwide row over food safety concerns, keeping in view a similar measure taken by various other states though Maggi samples tested by Goa’s health regulator did not find any harmful contents in them.
“Since Maggi has been already banned across the country, we have decided not to take a chance and ban it in Goa,” he told reporters in Mapusa town near Panaji. Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam, Bihar, Madhy Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Uttarakhand earlier banned Maggi noodles amid mounting food safety concerns and several laboratory tests reporting excessive lead in it.
“Though the results of Maggi samples tested in state-run Food and Drugs Administration’s (FDA) laboratory did not show presence of any harmful contents, the State Government has decided to ban sale of Maggi here,” Parsekar said.
He said government has already sent the samples of Maggi for further tests in a private lab at Mysore. Nestlé, the company which manufactures Maggi noodles, has a plant in Goa in Bicholim town. Responding to a question, the Goa CM said rest of the packaged food products of other brands would also be tested. “Indeed we need to check the other packaged food products,” he said.
Cracking down on Swiss giant Nestle, Central health watchdog FSSAI on Friday banned all variants of Maggi noodles terming them as “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption. In Delhi, Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik when asked about the Maggi controversy said, “The lead that has been found in it, it is not good for the health. That is why it has been banned.
“There might be many other such products. It is not that one product was banned and its over. The Union Health Ministry and even the states are keeping an eye on places where such products are available,” Naik said on the sidelines of an event.
He however clarified that no such product has come to light as of now. “We will tell you once such thing comes to light,” he said.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a traders’ body, urged Health Minister J P Nadda and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan to take action against brand ambassadors of Maggi under the FSSAI Act.
In a letter to the two ministers, it said Maggi brand ambassadors have violated Section 24 of the Food Safety & Standards Act (FSSAI) and therefore proceedings must also be initiated against them.
Section 24 provides for restrictions on Advertisement of any food which misleads or deceives or contravenes the provisions of FSSAI Act, Rules & Regulations made thereunder. Earlier this month, the government had warned of action against the brand ambassadors if the advertisements for the noodles were found to be misleading.
FSSAI said it will also examine branded pasta and macaroni products. “We will check all other instant noodles brands as well. Why should we restrict to one brand? We are drawing samples of other noodles brand,” said FSSAI CEO Yudhvir Singh Malik. “When proceedings against Maggie is launched by FSSAI, why no action is being taken against its brand ambassadors and the chain of officials who approved the product despite it having either deficiencies or exaggerated good claims,” CAIT said in a statement today.
Actors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta have been separately dragged to the court for promoting the ‘two-minute’ noodles brand.
In Indore, a BJP MLA kicked up a controversy by putting the blame on “new generation mothers” for rise in Maggi’s sale, saying they have become “lazy” and hence feed their children two-minute noodles.
“I don’t know why the mothers have become so lazy (that they feed their kids instant noodles)? Mothers of our generation used to serve homemade food like ‘paratha’, ‘halwa’ and ‘sivaia’ to their children,” Usha Thakur, a ruling party MLA from the city said while justifying the ban on sale of Maggi noodles.
Thakur’s remarks drew sharp reaction from Opposition Congress which said the woman legislator has disrespected mothers. “The BJP MLA, by dubbing Indian mothers as lazy, has shown disrespect towards them. For this, she must apologise to them,” Archana Jaiswal, a senior Congress leader, said.
Kiran Bedi of BJP said, “It is not a question of lazy mothers. Its a question of food which could have been served fast because when you got many things to do, you are looking for some fast food. So Mggi is nothing but a fast food which apparently was not a healthy food. But, one does go a lot for fast food because time is of essence today”. The regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), meanwhile, said it will test samples of instant noodles across brands to ensure food safety.