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Maggi controversy: Violation of standards will make brand ambassadors liable

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The food safety watchdog has taken more samples of Maggi noodles across India for testing after certain harmful substances were allegedly found in a batch in quantities higher-than-permissible-limits, the government said on Monday warning that violation of standards will make even brand ambassadors liable.

“FSSAI (Food Safety Standards Authority of India) has taken up the case. It will take action. We have already written to the FSSAI,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said at a press conference here on Monday.

Clarifying the matter, Consumer Affairs Additional Secretary G. Gurucharan said the food safety authority had taken some samples across India for testing. This was after allegations were made over “dangerous levels” of some substances in the popular snack Maggi noodles in Uttar Pradesh.

“Some reports are expected today and within two-three days we will get complete reports. All parameters are being tested,” Gurucharan said, adding: “If there is any violation, FSSAI will take action.”

Asked for his comments over Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit being served notice by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Uttarakhand for endorsing Maggi noodles, Gurucharan said the brand ambassadors will also be liable if advertisements were found to be misleading.

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Food Safety Commissioner Vijay Bahadur had said on May 21 that orders had been issued to Nestle to “look into the quality” of batches of Maggi noodles after some samples were reportedly found to contain higher-than-permissible levels of lead and monosodium glutamate.

The samples, authorities in Lucknow said, were taken from a lot in Easy Day departmental store at Barabanki, a district adjoining the state capital, in the second week of May. But Nestle said it was confident over these packs being no longer in circulation in the market.

“The company does not agree with the order and is filing the requisite representations with the authorities,” Nestle said.

The company also sought to dispel rumours that orders had been issued to recall all batches of Maggi noodles. In an e-mail statement to IANS, it said the batch in question had already passed the “best before” date in November last year, and was sure that it had automatically been recalled. IANS

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Food adulteration in India, the reason you need to be careful with what you eat

There is a good probability that a lot of what you eat is adulterated. Therefore, it becomes essential to cross check the purity of the things you consume

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Food adulteration in India and its consequences
Food adulteration in India has been highly rampant. Pixabay
  • Food adulteration has been highly rampant in India 
  • “Some of the most common adulterated foods are milk and milk products, atta, edible oils, cereals, condiments”
  • The case of food adulteration that took the country by storm was the case of Maggi Noodles, India’s most popular snack

New Delhi, August 1, 2017: The definition of food adulteration according to the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is, “The addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food so that the natural composition and quality of food substance is affected.”

Food adulteration has been highly rampant in India. India, on a usual basis, witnesses a number of cases of people getting affected by consuming adulterated food products.

According to FSSAI, “Some of the most common adulterated foods are milk and milk products, atta, edible oils, cereals, condiments, pulses, coffee, tea, confectionery, baking powder, vinegar, besan and curry powder.”

The case of food adulteration that took the country by storm was the case of the very loved, Maggi Noodles. Maggi Noodles was found to contain a higher than the permissible level of lead and MSG. The entire nation was shocked to know that India’s most popular snack is not safe for consumption. Nutritionists suggest that consumption of lead for a long period of time can have hazardous consequences on the body.

Also read: To eat or not to eat? Think before you eat food items from these brands.

“The Annual Public Laboratory Testing Report for 2014-15 brought out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) says that of the 49,290 samples of food items it tested, 8,469, nearly one-fifth, were found adulterated or misbranded,” suggests a report in The Hindu.

The worst part is, despite the potential of disastrous consequences of adulteration, the government is very lenient in providing punishment for the crime. Even if the culprit is caught, the system isn’t strict enough and one can easily get away.

“The reason behind the increasing trend in food adulteration practices is the poor ethical framework and lack of values. Government laws have their limits, it is the values in people that automatically resist them to do unethical practices,” says Rahul Gupta who works for the Food Corporation of India.

“In regard to milk, the demand and supply gap, and the ease with which it can be handled is what makes it the softest target of adulteration,” he mentioned.

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Sections 272 and 273 of the Indian Penal Code deal with the offense of Adulteration of Food and Drink Intended for Sale entailing a punishment of six months imprisonment or payment of Rs. 1000 fine in case of a person adulterating some food or drink, as an attempt to make the food or drink noxious, intending to sell it, or knowing the likeliness of the same being sold as a food or drink.

There is a good probability that a lot of what you eat is adulterated. Therefore, it becomes essential to cross check the purity of the things you consume. The situation is, indeed grave and one needs to be watchful!

-by Samiksha Goel of Newsgram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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 Dairy farmers want US regulators to Banish the term “soy milk” : But Why?

The sour history over who gets to use “milk” reaches back to at least 1997, when a soy foods group petitioned the FDA to recognize the term “soymilk"

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soy milk
A photo shows the ingredients label for soy milk at a grocery store in New York, Feb. 16, 2017. The dairy industry says terms like “soy milk” violate the federal standard for milk, but even government agencies have internally clashed over the proper term.VOA
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture “fervently” wanted to use the term “soy milk” in educational materials for the public
  • That irked the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees the rule defining milk as coming from healthy cows
  • The sour history over who gets to use “milk” reaches back to at least 1997, when a soy foods group petitioned the FDA to recognize the term “soymilk”

New York, July 4, 2017: Dairy farmers want U.S. regulators to banish the term “soy milk,” but documents show even government agencies haven’t always agreed on what to call such drinks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture “fervently” wanted to use the term “soy milk” in educational materials for the public, according to emails recently released in response to a lawsuit. That irked the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees the rule defining milk as coming from healthy cows.

It’s “not a trivial decision,” the FDA warned in one of the 2011 emails about the USDA’s desire to use the term.

The sour history over who gets to use “milk” reaches back to at least 1997, when a soy foods group petitioned the FDA to recognize the term “soymilk”. A couple of years later, the group pointed out that the FDA itself had used the term. Even now, the National Milk Producers Federation says it’s working to build support for legislation directing the FDA to enforce the federal standard. The dairy group says both “soy milk” and “soymilk” are inappropriate ways to describe non-dairy drinks made from soybeans, and that the one-word version is just an attempt to get around the definition.

ALSO READNDDB accounts for 90 percent of milk production in India: T Nanda Kumar

There are plenty of other food names at issue. A European Union court recently ruled that a company named TofuTown can’t describe its products as “cheese.” U.S. rice producers have railed against “pretenders ” like diced cauliflower and said they may take the issue to the FDA.

But the FDA hasn’t even always been able to get other agencies to go along, as illustrated in the emails obtained by the Good Food Institute, which advocates alternatives to industrial animal agriculture. The GFI sued the FDA for public records relating to soy milk.

The email exchange started when a nutrition adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services alerted the FDA that the USDA planned to use “soy milk” in educational materials about dietary guidelines.

“USDA staff are preparing consumer publications and fervently want to use the term ‘soy milk’ because beverages are widely marketed this way,” the adviser wrote.

The FDA bristled and provided the federal definition of milk as a “lacteal secretion” from cows. Therefore, the FDA declared that referring to soy, almond and rice drinks as “milk” would be incorrect. It suggested the other agency say “beverage” or “fortified beverage.”

When that didn’t put the matter to rest, the FDA warned that the USDA’s use of the term could undermine the FDA’s regulatory authority.

That apparently didn’t stop the USDA, either.

“They are adamant about using the term in consumer publications,” the nutrition adviser wrote. The USDA had indicated that it would use “soy beverage” in official policy documents, but it wanted to use “plain language” in materials for the public.

Despite the federal regulation, others may also consider “soy milk” an acceptable term. The Merriam-Webster dictionary doesn’t limit milk’s definition to cows, saying it is “a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young.”

It also allows for a “food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow’s milk.”

Asked how the spat was resolved, the USDA provided materials from 2011 that use both terms by referring to “soymilk (soy beverage).” The agency also uses the term elsewhere, including on its “Choose My Plate” website, which currently says “calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage)” is part of the dairy group.

The National Milk Producers Federation says the USDA’s usage of the term shows even other government agencies are confused about how to describe soy beverages in the absence of consistent enforcement by the FDA.

The FDA declined to comment. (VOA)

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Haryana School Curriculum is likely to include Religious Texts to emphasise on Moral Education

Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said moral education would be introduced as a subject for students from class 6 to class 12

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Sanskrit Language
Mahabharata Text in Sanskrit Language: Image source: sanskrit.org
  • The subject of moral education which includes religious texts from all religion
  • Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said moral education would be introduced as a subject for students from class 6 to class 12
  • The Haryana government had faced criticism last year when it announced to include texts from the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ in school curriculum

In the curriculum of Government schools of Haryana, text from the various religions will be included. The subject of moral education which includes religious texts from ‘Bhagavad Gita’ (Hindu religion), ‘Quran’ (Islam), the ‘Bible’ (Christianity) and ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ (Sikhism) will be introduced at a programme to be held in the Kurukshetra University auditorium on July 5.

Ram Vilas Paswan. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Ram Vilas Paswan. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said moral education would be introduced as a subject for students from class 6 to class 12.

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“All religions focus on character building. Texts such as Bhagavad Gita, Quran, the Bible and Guru Granth Sahib have been incorporated into the curriculum. Different textbooks would be prescribed for each class,” Mr Sharma said in a statement.

“The state government has prepared the curriculum in collaboration with social organisations and educationists.”

Mr Sharma held a meeting with senior officials of education and allied departments regarding preparations for the introduction of the subject on Saturday, July 1.

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The Haryana government had faced criticism last year when it announced to include texts from the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ in the school curriculum. The opposition Congress termed it an attempt to saffronize education.

Manohar Lal Khattar. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Manohar Lal Khattar. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The event to launch the texts in school curriculum will be attended by Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Dev Vrat, Gita scholar Swami Gyananand, Acharya Balkrishna from Patanjali Vidyapeeth and ministers from the centre and state government.

With Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, earlier RSS worker, Haryana has BJP government since October 2014. (IANS)

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