Patna: Thanks to the ban on Nestle’s Maggi noodles, the bootlegging has begun in Bihar. Though the brand is off the shelves in all the big stores, die hard consumers are being serviced ‘under the table’ in several shops in Patna’s by-lanes. As stocks dwindle, the asking price has been upped by a couple of rupees.
With the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India apparently calling for the recall of all pasta producing brands [except 33 which they have allegedly approved], the situation will grow uncontrollable.
One may soon see a thriving ‘black market’ in pasta products, say home-makers and students.
The apex food safety regulator has sought nationwide ‘safety tests’ on several brands of noodles, pastas and macaroni with tastemakers that it had earlier approved and has ordered the recall and destruction of non-assessed products in these categories.
The directive by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) injected an element of confusion into the convenience food segment because it suggested that only 33 products among others in the market had been approved till now.
What happens to the brands that do not feature on a list called “Annexe 1” which mentions the 33 products by seven companies? The way the order has been drafted, it appears that the products not featuring on the list have not been assessed and, hence, would have to be “recalled, removed from the market and destroyed”.
So will all the smaller local and Indian manufacturers have to shut shop?
Asked, one regulatory official said that the authorities would also be asked to test other “assessed” brands whose names had not been mentioned in the order and action would be taken only on the basis of the outcome.
The official declined to be named because the uploaded order does not specifically offer this leeway to the brands not shown on the list. Some well-known brands do not figure on the list.
Another official said that roadside kiosks peddling unbranded noodles might not be affected it they could prove that no tastemakers were added.
THE PRODUCTS THAT WILL BE TESTED
The following are 33 varieties of noodles, pasta or macaroni with tastemakers made by seven companies whose samples will now be tested. The 33 varieties, which figure in Annexe 1 of the FSSAI, had received product approvals.
The FSSAI statement on Monday says “all other categories of noodles, pasta or macaroni” should be “recalled, removed and destroyed”. The list of the 33 products uploaded by the FSSAI :
Company: M/s Ruchi International
Product: Koka Instant Noodles
Company: C G Foods India Pvt Ltd
Products: Wai Wai 123 chicken Noodles, Wai Wai Mama Punte Chicken Bhujiya (Wai Wai Triangle Bhujiya chicken snacks, Wai Wai 123 Veg Noodles
Company: M/s Glaxo smithe kline Consumer Healthcare Ltd
Products: Foodles crazy curry, Foodles mast masala, Foodles-spicy treat, Foodles-tomatter flavour, foodles 4 grain-curry in a hurry, Foodles 4 grain-slice of spice, Foodles 4 grain ala masala, Foodles 4 grain-carrot and spinch noodles, Foodles 4 grain-carrot noodle, Foodles 4 grain-tomatter flavour (instant noodles with seasoning powder)
Company: Nestle India Ltd
Products: Maggi Nuti-licious Pazzta with Taste Maker: (4 variants viz.) Tomato Twist pazzta, Cheese Macaroni Pazzta, Masala Penne Pazzta, Mushroom Penne Pazzta; Instant Noodles with Taste Maker (09 variants): Maggi Xtra Delicious Chicken Noodles, Maggi Thrillin Curry, Maggi Cuppa Mania Chilli Chow Masala YO, Maggi Cuppa Mania Masala YO, Magi 2-minute Masala Noodle/Maggi Hungarooo, Maggi Vegetable Multigrainz Noodles, Maggi Vegetable Atta Noodles, Maggi Xtra Delicious Magical Masala Noodles, Magi 2-minute Masala Dumdaar Noodle
Company: AA Nutrition Ltd
Products: Yummy chicken (instant) noodles/bits, Yummy veg noodles/bits
Company: M/s Indo Nissin Food Ltd
Product: Top Ramen Atta Masala
Company: ITC Limited
Products: Instant Noodles and magic masala, Instant Noodles and classic masala, Instant Noodles and Chinese masala
The FSSAI has asked state food safety commissioners to test samples of the 33 brands that the regulator had itself approved between 2012 and 2014.
“The safety of all other such products in these categories has not been assessed as per product approval procedures. As such, the same are unauthorised and illegal and cannot be used for human consumption,” FSSAI chief executive officer Y.S. Malik said in the letter to the food commissioners of all states and Union territories.
The letter iterates the point subsequently: “As regards all the remaining food products… you are advised to ensure that such products are recalled, removed from the market and destroyed.”
State food inspectors have been asked to test samples of noodles made by AA Nutrition, C G Foods India, Indo-Nissin, ITC Limited, “Glaxosmithekline”, Nestle India, Ruchi International, and pasta and macaroni made by Nestle India.
The states and Union territories have been asked to file their reports by June 19.
The FSSAI has not named any of the unapproved or non-assessed products that it has ordered recalled and destroyed. But state food regulators and industry executives say the directive could be interpreted to apply to all noodles, pasta and macaroni that have not been approved by the statutory authority.
“This order makes it clear there are products in the market that have never been independently tested for their safety,” said a senior executive in the industry who requested not to be named.
While giving conditional approval, the FSSAI accepts test results submitted by the manufacturers. “It has no independent laboratory of its own where it can examine the claims made,” the executive based in Mumbai said.
The FSSAI had last week banned the distribution and sale of Maggi noodles after tests on samples from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat had detected levels of lead, a potential toxin to children and adults, beyond the permissible level of 2.5 parts per million.
Health and food toxicology experts suspect that the lead contamination in food may be more widespread.
The FSSAI said today that the products on which the tests had now been ordered had been granted “conditional permissions/ approvals only”.
“Various tests on Maggi and some other similar products have raised serious health concerns,” chief executive Malik said in the letter sent today to all state food commissioners. “It would be advisable to draw regulatory samples for similar products for which product approvals have been granted by the FSSAI.”
The regulator has ordered a range of tests that would look for the presence of lead and other heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury, as well as a range of naturally occurring toxic substances.