In the wake of Maggi controversy, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is working on new regulations for quality standards of instant noodles to better regulate the quality of taste-maker and other ingredients.
According to a report in PTI: The new regulations by FSSAI is aimed at bringing in more clarity in the quality standards.
This will be the first time that FSSAI would come up with quality standards specifically for instant noodles. So far, there have been one common standard for various kinds of ready-to-cook products including noodles.
The new norms would clearly set the permissible limits of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and ash content and also state the specific standards for taste maker, a key ingredient in the instant noodles.
Earlier on April 1, the FSSAI had asked state authorities to launch proceedings against only those noodle or pasta companies that taste-enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) in their products despite carrying ‘No MSG’ or ‘No added MSG’ label on the packets.
Glutamate is naturally found in some common foods such as milk, spices, wheat, vegetables, etc.
Presently there is no analytical method to determine whether MSG was added to the product during manufacturing or it was naturally present in the product. This can however be checked through inspection of manufacturing premises.
In June last year, FSSAI had banned Nestle’s Maggi noodles over allegations of high lead content and presence of MSG.
The Bombay High Court however later lifted the nationwide ban imposed by Indian food regulators on Maggi noodles, and asked Nestle India to go for a fresh test of samples in three independent laboratories across India.
Nestle re-launched Maggi noodles in Indian markets in November 2015.
The Maggi Chronicles
On April 12, 2016, Nestle revealed that CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysuru) has cleared all samples of its instant snack brand Maggi noodles, stating that all 29 samples tested by the research institute are clear.
The reports state that lead levels for all samples are within permissible limits. The second batch of 16 samples were tested not only for lead and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), but also for other safety parameters like metal contaminants, crop contaminants and toxic substances, that are applicable to instant noodles as a proprietary food.
Maggi noodles was banned by national food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in June last year on allegations of more than permissible lead and traces of MSG.
However, in April of 2016, FSSAI issued a notification stating that a food business operator will not be prosecuted for presence of MSG in their products.
FSSAI says it cannot be scientifically established whether MSG, a popular preservative and flavour enhancer, has been added by a manufacturer or present naturally.
Financial Impact of Maggi Ban
In its full-year earnings declaration, Nestle, which follows the January-December calendar, had said growth of its zone AOA (Asia, Oceania and Africa) region was at 0.5 per cent, impacted by the Maggi noodles issue in India.
Nestle India had reported a decline of 17.2 per cent in net sales for the year ended December 2015, while its net profit fell to Rs 563 crore, from Rs 1,185 crore in the previous year.
The food maker, which also makes KitKat chocolate and Nescafe coffee, took a hit of Rs 450 crore, having destroyed over 30,000 tonnes of Maggi. The firm had reported its first loss in three decades at Rs 64 crore in the April-June quarter of 2015.
READ MORE: Maggi woes end, Nestle on road to recovery