The Mamata Banerjee government joined many other states on Wednesday in sending Maggi noodles packets to food laboratories and actually expanded the search for toxic substance in fast-food by adding a few popular brands of instant noodles, potato chips and similar snacks, besides bottled drinking water, to the list.
The government made it clear that it would take action against Nestlé and other manufacturers if the test results proved the existence of toxic items beyond permissible levels. “We haven’t banned Maggi noodles in our state. We’ve sent samples of several brands, including Maggi, to state laboratories to verify their quality and standards. We’ll send the test reports to the chief minister and seek her opinion. Necessary action will follow,” Sadhan Pandey, consumer affairs minister, told HT.
During the day, state health secretary Malay Kumar De held a meeting with food safety commissioner Godhuli Mukherjee to discuss the issue. “The lab reports are awaited and the future course of action will be decided accordingly,” Mukherjee said.
“The health department is keeping a watch on the developments in other states. We know that several states have already banned the product because of the presence of the taste-enhancer, monosodium glutamate, and lead. In our state, steps will be taken after the reports come in,” an official at Swasthya Bhavan said.
Bengal did not have adequate infrastructure, such as human resources and equipment, for collection and testing of food samples in health labs, she added. “We’ve conveyed all our problems to the health secretary,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
The Maggi issue was also raised in the Assembly. Participating in a debate on the budget of the consumer affairs department, CPI(M) MLA Seikh Amzad Hossain wondered what the ministry had been doing when Maggi was having a free run of the state.