There has been a sudden spike in reports of packed food items containing unsafe substances, ranging from higher than permissible levels of lead to even live larvae. Concerns about packed foods are at an all-time high after authorities banned nine variants of Maggi on finding high levels of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Nestle has already recalled Maggi from the Indian market and the Hindustan Times has reported that the country’s packaged food industry is facing the impact of the Maggi mess, which blew the lid off flaws in safety checks, inadequate information on labels and the lack of a uniform national protocol for laboratory tests of products.
Data from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) shows that about 13% of 240,000 product samples have failed laboratory tests since 2011.
Here’s a quick look at the products that are under the scanner now:
Dead worms found in Complan
The Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) on Saturday sent a sample of
for testing after Lucknow resident Tanisha Rai Singhania found hundreds of dead worms in a pack of the popular energy drink.
Authorities also issued a notice to Heinz, the manufacturer of Complan, for selling a “poor quality product”.
Live larvae in Nestle milk powder
A taxi driver in Tamil Nadu found dozens of live larvae in a pack of Nestle’s
, NAN PRO 3, weeks after popular Maggi noodles were subjected to tests at several places in the country.
A report of the Food Analysis Laboratory in Coimbatore confirmed that the sample contained 28 live larvae and 22 rice weevils.
K Prem Ananth had fed one of his 18-month-old twins and was about to feed the other when he stumbled on the live larvae in the milk powder. Ananth said two days after the feeding, the infant developed a skin allergy and was admitted to a private paediatric care centre.
Carbonate compounds in Amul milk products
Carbonate compounds were found in milk samples reportedly meant for manufacturing Amul packaged milk at one of its village-level collection centres in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh, The Indian Express reported earlier this month.
The use of any foreign agent in packaged milk is banned and food safety authorities picked up three more samples from Amul’s chilling and mixing plant in Fatehpur’s Malwan block and sent them for analysis to assess whether the “contamination” is widespread, the report said.
The daily quoted a food safety official as saying that chemical compounds like sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate are usually used to enhance the shelf life of milk by preventing it from turning sour for a longer period.
Kurkure puffs and Lay’s chips too?
Amidst the Maggi row, popular Kurkure corn puffs and Lay’s potato chips too were investigated by authorities in West Bengal and Delhi.
“We are most concerned about what children are eating as even traces of toxins in food and drink can poison their bodies over time. Heavy metals may not have an immediate effect but can cause damage to vital organs in the long run,” KK Jindal, Delhi’s food safety commissioner, told Hindustan Times.
Misleading labels and safety concerns
A recent Hindustan Times report from Mumbai said around 13% of food items, including packaged water, ice cream and milk, tested by Maharashtra’s food safety regulator between March 2014 and April 2015 were either labelled substandard or unfit for human consumption.
The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration, as part of its routine testing activity, sampled 8,663 food items and found 1,162 samples to be of “poor quality”, with many having misleading or incomplete labelling as in the case of Maggi noodles.
13% of 2.4 lakh product samples failed lab tests since 2011
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