Maggi faces production roadblocks

Lack of clarity on whether manufacturing bans in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Goa and Karnataka still in place

Though popular instant noodles brand Maggi has passed the safety tests mandated by the Bombay High Court, it faces hurdles on the production front, owing to lack of clarity on whether state-wide bans across the five Nestle India facilities that manufacture Maggi are still in place or not.
The five plants are located at Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Karnataka. While Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were among the first few states to ban Maggi, following the detection of contaminated samples in those regions, Goa and Karnataka followed. Goa banned the product in June as a “precautionary measure”, while Karnataka first gave a thumbs-up to the product and then reversed its stand.

Maggi faces production roadblocks

Sources say the Nestle India management is talking to the authorities in Goa and Karnataka to allow production in these states. Goa is on top of the company’s list, as a Central Food Technological Research Institute laboratory, approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), had found samples of Maggi sent by the Goa FDA to be in compliance with food safety norms.
Responding to queries on the issue, a Nestle India spokesperson said re-starting the manufacturing process was lengthy and complex. “We will evaluate where we can accelerate the process of re-starting production under the current circumstances,” the spokesperson added.
Those in the know say resolving production issues will be critical for Nestle, as it looks to re-launch Maggi by the year-end. Earlier, Nestle India Managing Director Suresh Narayanan had said the company would press all levers to make the re-launch memorable.
For that, Nestle will have to commence production at the earliest.
Some say Nestle could have avoided the current logjam had it not terminated an agreement with Kolkata-based contract manufacturer SAJ Food Products last month. As West Bengal didn’t ban Maggi, the issue of having to negotiate with state authorities wouldn’t arise, they add.
The FSSAI-certified SAJ Food Products manufactured about four per cent of Maggi’s annual volumes.
As Nestle didn’t have its own plant to manufacture Maggi in the eastern region, SAJ was a key contract manufacturer.
While SAJ Chairman K D Paul said his company continued to manufacture other Nestle products, he declined to specify what led to the termination of the Maggi contract. “The decision (to terminate the Maggi contract) was taken by Nestle, as it thought it would be best to use its own production facilities,” Paul said. “We not only remain manufacturers of other Nestle products, but also their leading distributors in the (eastern) region.”



Nestle India under scrutiny as NCRDC calls for fresh testing of 13 Maggi samples


The Central govt initially sought to send 25 Maggi samples but Nestle rejected 12 as being unfit to qualify for testing

New Delhi: India’s apex consumer court on Thursday ordered 13 samples of Nestle’s Maggi instant noodles to be sent to a government-run research laboratory in Mysore to test for lead and monosodium glutamate levels.

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission’s (NCDRC) order to send the samples to Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysore followed a hearing on Thursday involving the Central government and Nestle India.

The Central government initially sought to send 25 Maggi samples but Nestle rejected 12 as being unfit to qualify for testing.

Nestle India also argued that in its view no useful purpose would be served by indicating the level of monsodium glutamate as natural glutamate cannot be distinguished from added MSG.

Apart from these samples, the Centre also pressed for lab analysis of samples seized by the Food Safety Standards Association of India (FSSAI) that are currently stored at a godown at Lucknow.

However, Iqbal Chagla, senior advocate appearing on behalf of Nestle India, strongly opposed the request saying, “It cannot be done on the grounds that it was rejected by the Bombay high court earlier. The court has already directed for adequate samples to be sent for testing.”

Justices V.K Jain and B.C Gupta, who heard the case, put the request on hold saying they wanted details of those samples. The judges appointed a local commissioner to visit the godown in Lucknow and note down the batch numbers of the samples so that the court could consider sending them for testing.

The order also laid down a detailed procedure to be followed for testing in the Mysore lab.

“The 12 samples before us would be put in a clean box and sealed under the supervision of the Registrar with his signature. Representative of the parties can also put their signatures on the box which will be sent to the director of CFTRI through a special messenger who will deliver the same through an acknowledgment on delivery.

“The seal and signature may be duly compared with those on the forwarding letter and the stock would only be admitted for testing on being satisfied that there has been no tampering/damage.” the order said.

Additionally, the court ordered Nestle India to submit a list of the batch number of samples that have been already sent for testing as per a Bombay high court order of 13 August.

Nestle, which has been under the scanner, was granted a respite by the Bombay high court which revoked a nationwide ban imposed on it after the FSSAI reported finding high levels of lead and MSG in Maggi noodles packs on 5 June.

However, the Bombay high court demanded fresh testing to ensure the noodles are safe to eat before the popular snack is allowed to be reintroduced in the market.

NCDRC’s order on Thursday came in response to a Central government suit filed in public interest on 11 August, alleging unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements by the Indian unit of Swiss packaged foods company Nestle SA.

The court granted Nestle India time till 26 October to file its reply and listed the matter to be heard next on 23 November.

Nestle India declined to comment on the matter.


Toxic Food is Violation of Rights: National Human Rights Commission

food pesticide

NEW DELHI: Alarmed over the increase in the quantit­y of pesticides found in fruits and vegetables, the Nation­al Human Rights Commission, taking cognisance of several reports, on Friday issued a notice to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The Union Agriculture Ministry’s findings show that in the past six years there has been a two-fold increase in the number of samples of vegetables, fruits, meat and spices containing pesticides.

The NHRC has also issu­ed notices to the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries and secretaries in charge of the food and supplies departments in all state governments.

Terming it a case of human rights violation, Justice D Murugesan has sought a respon­se within eight weeks about action taken to minimise pesticide residue in food.

Pointing out the hazardous effects of pesticides on the lives of people, Murugesan said, “It is to be emphasised that any food article that is hazardous and injurious to public health is a potential danger to the Fundamental Right to Life. The enjoyment of life, including right to life and human dignity, encompasses within its ambit, availability of articles of food without insecticide or pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues, antibiotics resid­ues, solvent residues etc.

“Though it is the sole duty of the state to achieve an appropriate level for protection of human life and health — a fundament­al right, reports of rampant use of pesticides continue to pour in,” he said.


100 food streets to be adopted during first phase of Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan

street food vendor

The campaign, planned by CII and its partners, including consumer organisation VOICE, and National Association of Street Vendors of India, was rolled out in July.

NEW DELHI: As many as 100 food streets across the country will be adopted during the first phase of the Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan, an initiative to develop a culture of food safety in the country.

The campaign, planned by CII and its partners, including consumer organisation VOICE, andNational Association of Street Vendors of India ( NASVI), was rolled out in July this year.

“In phase one, the target is to adopt 100 food streets across the country, generate awareness on food safety among 10,000 consumers and build capacity on good hygiene and manufacturing practices by training employees of 300 SMEs towards food safety,” CII said.

Under the campaign, nation-wide sensitisation sessions on cleaning, hygiene and sanitation for safe food, walkathons and media dissemination programmes for consumers and street food industries will be organised across the country.

CII is also organising Food Safety Advocacy and Capacity Building programmes across Delhi, the North-East, Mumbai, Bangalore, Lucknow, Jamshedpur, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Siliguri, among others.

The industry programmes are designed to upgrade supply chain participation across the food industry to international standards.

More workshops on good agricultural, manufacturing and hygiene practices in the North-East, in partnership with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, are also on the anvil, starting mid-October.

The broader objective is to enhance consumer awareness on food safety aspects like labels, storage conditions and related hygienic practices. Street food vendors, schools and colleges are also part of the programme.

Food service providers, including the Railways, street vendors and mass caterings, will be sensitised on how to produce and serve safe food.


Safe food walkathon in Delhi

Hundreds of Delhiites stepped out of their homes early on Sunday for the cause of clean and hygienic food.Participating in the safe food walkathon, several street vendors too pledged for the cause.The walkathon, titled “Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan”, was flagged off by Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain.Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said, “With heightened consumer demand for safe and unadulterated food, food safety and hygienic practices are the need of the hour. There is also an increasing need to focus on safety of street food, enjoyed by all sections of society.”

Access to safe food

The walkathon saw several parallel activities including street plays, a painting competition and a skit by the Jago Grahak Jago team. Children particularly seemed to enjoy the sessions in which they were trained on the proper way to wash hands. Several street food vendors shared their experiences as well. The participants included senior citizens, children and people from all walks of life.“Access to safe food is a basic human right,” said Alka Kaul, the chairperson of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Delhi State Council, which organised the event.“Our goal should be to provide high-quality safe food every time and everywhere. We believe that in today’s complex and interdependent foodsupply chain. Food safety is a shared responsibility of the farmers, the food industry, regulators as well as consumers,” she added.

Food safety

The CII has also formed a Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan Steering committee with members from National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE), Cargill and other industry representatives.The walkathon will be followed by seven more safe food walkathons and more than 20 consumer advocacy programmes across the country in the next six months.

Source: The Hindu


FSSAI chairman to hold additional charge of CEO; Sandhya Kabra shifted

he churning in the rank and file of FSSAI that started with shifting of CEO YS Malik continues with Ashish Bahuguna, chairman FSSAI, taking up additional charge of chief executive officer of the body. Not only that, the much-in-news Product Approval division has a change in Dr Rubeena Shaheen from J&K replacing Sandhya Kabra. Shaheen is an MBBS doctor with MS in public health. Kabra will now look after only QA/Legal issues.

Meanwhile, FBOs (food business operators) state that the changes would not help in pacifying the anguish of food industry. The newly-formed National Joint Action Committee of 12 different food industry organisations states that the officers behaving in an arbitrary manner should be shifted out of FSSAI.

Bahuguna, former union agriculture secretary, was appointed as chairman FSSAI in July this year. He would continue to hold the position of CEO till a formal appointment which could take few months.

On September 23, Malik was moved out and shifted as additional secretary in Niti Aayog. He was believed to be the man behind the ban of global giant Nestle’s popular noodles brand Maggi, while, Bahuguna, IAS officer of 1978-batch of Rajasthan cadre, retired in February this year from agriculture ministry.

FSSAI, ever since it took action on Maggi noodles, has found itself in continuous controversy for its alleged arbitrary way of functioning. As a result, the CEO was first shifted out of the apex food regulator and now Sandhya Kabra was shunted out of the Product Approval job. According to sources, it was direct fallout of continuous pressure from FBOs on health ministry.

Further the FSSAI has appointed new advisors for various jobs. Anil Kumar, formerly with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been given charge of advisor on standards while Sunil Bakshi, formerly with National Dairy Development Board, has been entrusted with the charge of advisor on regulations and Codex.

Also, according to sources, Sanjay Dave, former advisor, FSSAI, was likely to join the apex food regulator in the same capacity. His duties will be prescribed later.


Ignores Task Force report; FSSAI to frame Product Approval norms again

Food Product Approval

Food Product Approval

The Task Force constituted by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) headed by Dr V Prakash to review the process of Product Approval had recommended that proprietary food products using approved ingredients and additives should not require Product Approval. While FSSAI is silent about this Task Force report, it wants to draft new regulations on Product Approval for which it has recently released a notification seeking legal assistance.

The Task Force gave its report in April this year, much before Supreme Court upheld Bombay High Court order quashing the Product Approval advisory. After that, FSSAI had sought help from a legal consultant to frame policy for the same Product Approval process while it had withheld the draft regulations framed by the Task Force.

Further it was observed by the Task Force that it was a basic agreed position that approval should be for new or novel ingredients or technology and not for product formulations or brands.

The Task Force commented, “While going through the document (it framed) and from the discussions held in the Task Force meetings, there appears to be a lack of clarity on the way proprietary foods (non-standardised) are regulated currently.”

The reason was that there were already laws and regulations that were governing proprietary food. It further commented, “We would like to reiterate that proprietary foods are already regulated by various horizontal regulations of FSSAI and hence proprietary food do not require any recipe by recipe approval. Like standardised products, all proprietary foods also need to comply to the relevant provisions laid down in the following Food Safety and Standards Rules and Regulations, a) The Food Safety and Standards Rules, b) The Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, c) The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, d) The Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, e) The Food Safety and Standards (Laboratory and Sampling Analysis) Regulations, f) The Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations. Hence what require approval are only those ingredients /additives and technologies which are not permitted yet or are not mentioned in the regulations and may not be regulated adequately.”

The issue of Product Approval in recent times has been a serious bone of contention between the apex food regulator FSSAI and the food industry. The issue has taken its toll on both sides, ban on Nestle’s Maggi, and transfer of FSSAI’s CEO YS Malik to NITI Aayog.

FSSAI constituted a Task Force on September 8, 2014, and October 17, 2014, comprising 17 members representing different sectors such as food industry, consumer organisations, scientific experts and food safety commissioners of states to look into the present process of Product Approval and for framing draft regulations on the Food Product Approval System in FSSAI.

Industry insiders say that the whole process of Product Approval is actually retrograde in nature and is not prevalent in any other reputed/comparable standard in any country. The reasons for all this controversy is lack of understanding of ground realities specially in regard to diversity of food in our country specially traditional and ethnic food with long history of safe use.