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Maggi aftermath: Noodle brand Top Ramen off shelves

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

What began as a routine inspection of the two minute noodles, has now snowballed into a storm wiping off another major brand from the consumer shelves.

Indo Nissin Foods Ltd. on Monday announced the withdrawing of its instant noodles brand Top Ramen from the market on the direction of regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

“We are withdrawing our instant noodles Top Ramen from the market as our application for regulator approval is still pending with the FSSAI,” a company official told IANS.

The city-based company sought clarification from the regulator on its June 8 advisory on product safety testing of all instant noodles after it ordered Nestle India on June 5 to recall all nine approved variants of Maggi noodles.

“The regulator has directed us to withdraw our product till it (FSSAI) clarifies to our query and gives approval to Top Ramen noodles,” the official added.

After Maggi withdrew its varieties of noodles, leading FMCG major Hindustan Unilever also pulled out its Knorr instant noodles brand over safety issues.

Global cafe chain Starbucks has also stopped using ingredients not approved by the regulator in certain products served at its India outlets.

Indo Nissin Foods Ltd. managing director Gautam Sharma said the company tested its noodles after safety concerns of ready-made food products became a public issue.

“Testing of our noodles at accredited labs in the city showed that lead levels in two cases was slightly higher in their tastemaker,” Sharma admitted.

The heightened activity from FMCG companies comes after the central regulatory body came out with the advisory on product safety testing of all instant noodle products in India on June 8.

Tests in certain states had revealed the presence of lead beyond permissible limits and taste enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in Maggi noodles.

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FSSAI Chief Decides to Make Labelling Compulsory if GM Content is Over 1%

Agarwal said there was a shortage of manpower and resources in some states but things were improving

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Packaged Foods Could Be Harmful, consumer
Food labels promote healthier choices: Study. Pixabay

Notwithstanding the lobbying from pro-GM crop groups, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to go ahead with labelling packaged food products with over one per cent of Genetically Modified ingredients.

The scientific committee of the food regulator has green-signalled labelling of GM food items for manufacture, sale and distribution in India with a threshold value of one per cent, FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal told IANS in an interview.

“GM food lebelling will now be a part of GM food regulation itself. We have taken a view to reduce it to one per cent,” he said.

If the maximum residue level (MRL) of GM ingredients reaches one per cent, food products will have to display a message on their packaging that they contain GM food.

A notification in this regard will be issued following approval by the government, Agarwal said.

Earlier, the threshold of five per cent was being considered. However, the scientific committee zeroed in on one per cent following consultations with all the stakeholders.

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

Lebelling of GM food is required in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and China.

The FSSAI had come under severe criticism after environmental watchdog Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) reported in July last year that 21 of the randomly picked 65 food products, including that for newborns, from different retail outlets in the country were found GM positive in its lab tests.

Agarwal said the decision on banning or limiting the use of antibiotics in food products would be notified in the next two to three months.

“We were petitioned by the industry that antibiotics in products generally come from primary sources such as through fodder or medical treatment. They also need time to set up lab test facilities,” he said.

“We will decide in the next two-three months about how many of the 100-odd antibiotics should be banned immediately and which can be given more time to come to a decision.”

Consumers
A worker removes expired food in a local supermarket in Brussels, Jan. 16, 2017. VOA

He said some antibiotics would be allowed but their presence in food products should be below the prescribed MRL.

Agarwal also said the food regulator had taken a strict view of the food safety norms being flouted by restaurants that have tie-ups with e-commerce food service companies.

“These e-commerce companies have identified 10,400 such restaurants that failed to follow the safety norms. The list has been shared with the state governments. The state governments are in the process of closing them down or persuading them to follow norms to keep their licenses (active),” he said.

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A parliamentary panel had last year rapped FSSAI over weak enforcement of food safety laws as many states did not have food safety departments.

Agarwal said there was a shortage of manpower and resources in some states but things were improving.

“New labs are coming up in some states with the support of the central government. The state food labs system is currently weak. Once these labs are operational, testing will be more robust. We are working with states to create posts and fill them up,” he said. (IANS)