by Sofia Shehana and Saba Firdaus.
Be it tea-time or late night hunger pangs, Maggi has always come to our rescue. However, the prospect for continuing this tradition is declining. After being a part of Indians’ diet for more than a decade by promising “Taste bhi, Health bhi” noodles, Maggi, owned by Nestle is under the scanner for containing ingredients hazardous for human consumption. The high amount of lead content has stirred up the controversy over this instant masala noodles, which is enjoyed by millions of Indians every day. This came as a response to a complaint registered by a lawyer who was taken ill after consuming the noodles. The results of the food tests which followed confirmed the presence of a high amount of lead content (more than 10 ppm across a majority of tests conducted, as opposed to the allowable limit of 0.1-2.5 ppm). Owing to this, many state governments have banned Maggi temporarily. Apart from lead, Maggi is also infamous for containing MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) popularly known as “ajino moto”, which are carcinogenic molecules.
Following the ban, sales in the instant noodles category in India fell by a whopping 80% – which is not surprising as Maggi constitutes a significant share of this market. But with tests being ordered on other noodles brands, the entire market segment is facing the heat. One need not look too far as our very own Ramu Tea Stall does not serve Maggi anymore. Ramu, the proprietor of Ramu Tea Stall, laments his inability to serve Maggi because of the Government ban, and in his opinion, “other brands do not taste as good”. This might be disheartening news for all the Maggi fans in the institute. But every cloud has a silver lining — Ramu has added that he intends to introduce pasta to fill the void created by Maggi’s absence.
There is additional good news — tests by the Singapore food authority on samples from India have declared that Maggi is risk free from lead. However, because of the legal pickle in which it currently finds itself, Maggi, which was amongst the ‘Most Trusted Brands’ in the country last year, may find it difficult to recover its popularity among Indians. Until then, there will certainly be many items vying to take its place – and there may be, as a newspaper called it, a short spell of “Ghar Wapsi” to Indian snacks.
- Most Trusted Brands Survey, 2014, The Economic Times.