Regulations
Manufactured Hysteria over Maggi
Will it make our food safer and address real issues?
 
There is more manufactured hysteria around Maggi noodles than we have ever had when scores of people, including children, have died of poisoning due to adulterated sweets during Diwali, or adulterated liquor. The excess lead in the noodles has not killed anybody. Yet, entire cities are being emptied of Maggie noodles. 
 
A court in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) has decided that real culprit is not Nestlé, but the three film-stars who endorsed Maggi—Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta (12 years ago). A case is registered against them for misleading people. Not to be left behind, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has asked Madhuri Dixit to explain the nutritional content in Maggi noodles in 15 days. 
 
Nothing shows up India as a semi-literate banana republic than this manufactured mischief. Before discussing this further, let me make it clear that I hold no brief for Maggi noodles or Nestlé. What we eat is often unhealthy processed food, which is bad for our health. Large food companies lobby to keep Bureau of Industrial Standards (BIS) norms vague enough to allow them to walk the thin line between truth and falsehood. Corrupt or careless government officials ensure that we eat dozens of chemical additives such as preservatives, colouring agents, emulsifiers, stabilisers, gelling agents, thickeners, flavour enhancers (like mono sodium glutamate, which is not banned in the US), sequestering and buffering agents and sweeteners. All these make our processed food tasty and give it a long shelf-life. 
 
Government officials also maintain a deafening silence about aflatoxins in milk, growth hormones injected into livestock, excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers across India. Do you know that even breast milk was found to contain urea? 
 
Have you ever seen the FDA go after possible carcinogens such as butylated hydroxyanisole (E320) and potassium bromate which are present in breakfast cereal and our daily bread made by top brands? Or a dangerous dye, like rhodamine-B, that gives candyfloss its fluorescent pink colour? Or even major brands of lipstick which are repeatedly found to be high in lead content all over the world? Yes, we are talking about names like L’Oreal, Christian Dior, Lakmé and Maybelline. 
 
The FSSAI’s (Food Safety Standards Authority of India) over-the-top reaction to the finding of excess lead in Maggi noodles seems to suggest that the multinational company is deliberately trying to destroy India with lead poisoning. So let’s get some perspective on this issue. 
 
All over the world, when things can go wrong, it leads to recall of food products, medicines or even automobiles. Regulators inspect and isolate the problem; get defective, contaminated, sub-standard products off the shop shelves; and ensure corrective action and penalty. Whipping up a nationwide hysteria smacks of regulatory terrorism rather than serious action. 
 
We are happy the government is concerned about our health, but we would like to see it in the form of clear policies, labelling, inspection and even-handed, continuous action against dangerous additives rather than selective madness. 
 
Finally, if the courts plan to go after brand ambassadors, how about docking regulators first? Moneylife has argued since inception that celebrity endorsements cause maximum damage when used to hawk financial products such as insurance. Why is the insurance regulator allowing it, when the capital market regulator has banned celebrity endorsements for 25 years? 

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COMMENTS

Dr. Rakesh Goyal

1 year ago

Possibility can not be ruled out that targeting a Swiss company may be a strategy to pressurize Swiss government to release black money accounts details in that country. A wild thought but possibility exist. If true, kudos to government to hit Swiss where it hurts them most.

REPLY

Pradeep Kumar

In Reply to Dr. Rakesh Goyal 1 year ago

Maggie has little to do with lead.
I stand with our Govt,
I am an AAP Man, still.

CR KRISHNAMURTHY

1 year ago

Can anyone say how many deaths in this country have been caused owing to consumption of maggi with the so-alleged 'high lead content'. How many deaths are occuring every day every hour, due to poor water and air quality? Who is responsible for such deaths? Packaged water companies are mushrooming in the country, in utter disregard of the WHO standards. Regulatory authority like ISI is turning blind eye to this. Once in a way they check and then connive. Maggi reaction is nothing and nothing but knee-jerk just to show to the west that we are also a country which will take action against US Companies. This is not what people want but an action in right earnest, be it a westerner or an indian. Law should be the supreme. Can those in power ensure this? I doubt not.

VIVEK SHAH

1 year ago

An interesting post on this matter

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2015/...

Narendra Doshi

1 year ago

well said and rightly broad based on issues.

Silloo Marker

1 year ago

There seems to be more behind this sudden madness over Maggi. Since the authorities have hardly ever thought of ensuring standards that would protect citizens'health, this concern seems rather strange to say the least. Nestle is certainly big fish and likely to cough up a few millions if it comes to that - of course, the beneficiaries would make sure it remains discreet - so why pick on the small fry who dole us out daily doses of some poisonous stuff or the other?

Nalin Patel

1 year ago

what about street food we consume are they safe, collectively they are much bigger than maggie, do not are they contaminated???

Pradeep Kumar

1 year ago

You miss the point Ms Dalal, when we had waves of fake Church attacks plastered all over the world, so also with rape movie, we are hitting back, just like in Myanmar. Remember Modi's nose was rubbed on the ground by the west by asking him to please MMS.

Suketu Shah

1 year ago

Food adulteration at all levels in India is at an alltime high.Well known restuarants which were not indulging in the same are doing since last 4-5 yrs.Targeting Maggi (an MNC Nestle) govt has sent a strong message to start with.

Ashoka.kalgude

1 year ago

I hope this article not manufactured by nestle?

REPLY

R S Murthy

In Reply to Ashoka.kalgude 1 year ago

Why Nestle to doctor the script? It has become fashion for us to blame some one. Please see all tobacco products are Liquor contain a warning 'Injurious to Health' how many of us stopped using them. Tommorrow if Nestle is going to put such warning on all packets, do we stop consuming them? We certainly loose an opprtunity to blame?Our slogan is I do not take care of my health but food maker should understand my constitution, make the stuff accordingly and sell to me. How rediculous?

R S Murthy

1 year ago

In India we react peculiarly.Normal common sense says palatable food is not good for health and healthy food will not be tasty. We have no control on our own palate but speak loud how Government failed to control. Knowing the weakness of our people, advertisers go all out to lure the public. Every one of us know very well these celebrities are not experts but work for money. We believe blindly BOOST is the secret of all Indian Cricketers and salt in Colgate paste cures all dental problems. Hanuman Yantra or Kuber Chakra bestows all prosperity. These are the people who helped Sahara and other chit companies to grow big.

mathai

1 year ago

selective madness. yes. but let it give way to some method. hopefully

Srinivas

1 year ago

Sure. Succinctly summarised. I am wondering as to why the government did not take cognizance of this revelation since the launch of the product per se? Is it the laxity of the regulator over the last 3 decades? or Is it the Firm refused to heed to the advise of the regulator? Why is it that regular road side or even budget hotels/restaurants are spared which are all over the places where people throng in the name of delectable street food? Why cant regulator ensure that the safe and healthy food is provided to the consumer by any source: be it street side vendor or packaged food industry or "licensed" restaurants? Again this whole issue is going to die a natural one much as we have seen in earlier instances.

Nitin Deshpande

1 year ago

Its true that many things around us are contaminated. Like Paclobutrazol to induce flowers and fruiting in Mango, chemicals and fertilizers traces in food. It starts from early morning when you brush your teeth with the damn toothpaste. Maggi is a worst food our children eat. And I love to see this happens time and again with such things to make people scary as even if they are manufactured they are not false either.

Nifty, Sensex, Bank Nifty still weak - Tuesday closing report

Nifty may rally, if it closes above 8,060, while Bank Nifty may rally on a close above 17,600

 

We had mentioned in Monday’s closing report that NSE’s CNX Nifty may remain weak and for it to reverse the downtrend, it has to close above 8,100. On Tuesday, the 50-stock index traded below this level, moving in a narrow range for the entire session. 
 
The S&P BSE Sensex opened at 26,510, while Nifty opened at 8,027. Sensex moved in the range of 26,438 and 26,605, while Nifty moved between 8,005 and 8,057. Sensex closed at 26,481 (down 42 points or 0.16%). Nifty closed at 8,022 (down 22 points or 0.27%).
 
Bank Nifty opened at 17,413 and moved in the range of 17,393 and 17,561. It closed 17,489.90 (up 57 points or 0.33%). NSE recorded a volume of 68.79 crore shares. India VIX fell 4.63% to close at 18.0100.
 
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that the government will invest Rs8.5 lakh crore over the next five years to develop India’s railway services. This is expected to kickstart related manufacturing. 
 
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday issued a notification allowing banks to seize control of a company if a debt restructuring fails and sell their stake in the defaulting firm to recover dues. However, this has hardly any impact on banking stocks.
 
Coming back to stock markets, KEC International rose 16.83% to close at Rs125.65 on the BSE. It was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. It announced order wins worth over Rs1,000 crore. Its transmission and distribution (T&D) business secured total orders worth Rs613 crore while its railways business bagged orders worth Rs288 crore for work in Madhya Pradesh from Rail Vikas Nigam. The cables business got orders worth Rs101 crore.
 
Apollo Tyres fell 8.03% to close at Rs160.90 on the BSE. It was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. Vedanta rose 3.11% to close at Rs182.55 on the BSE. It was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. Vedanta Resources Plc signalled on Tuesday that it is considering a merger of two or more of its Indian subsidiaries, namely Vedanta and Cairn India, which could provide the debt-burdened units access to cash from other operations.
 
Cipla fell 3.35% to close at Rs593.50 on the BSE. It was the top loser in the Sensex 30 pack. Mylan launched generic MDI combination inhaler. The product is deemed bioequivalent to GSK's Seretide inhaler and this is the first generic version of GSK's Seretide Evohaler in UK. According to analysts Cipla had launched this product in in certain EU (non-UK) territories in 2014 and was expected Cipla to be the first company to launch its product in United Kingdom. The launch of first generic version by Mylan is negative for Cipla.
 
On Monday, US indices closed in red. Concern that the Fed could hike rates for the first time since 2006 as soon as September pulled the US indices lower.
 
Asian indices closed in the red. Jakarta Composite (2.30%) was the top loser. China's consumer inflation eased in May, while producer prices fell for the 38th straight month, raising concerns about growing deflationary pressures as the economy cools. The producer price index fell 4.6%, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday, flat against the previous month but missing market expectations for a slide of 4.5%.
 
European indices were trading in the red. 
 
US Futures were trading marginally lower. 
 
HSBC will cut almost 50,000 jobs from its payroll, take an axe to its investment bank and shrink its risk-weighted assets by $290 billion in an effort to improve its sluggish performance, Europe's biggest bank said on Tuesday.
 

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Chief Information Commissioners with short tenure have poor records
With number of pending cases going over 40,000 at the Central Information Commission-CIC and 15,704 Cases pending in the Chief CIC bench, the Commission requires drastic reforms. Plus, the CCIC and ICs must have a tenure of at least three years to justify their appointment 
 
After keeping the post of Chief Central Information Commissioners (CCIC) vacant for almost 10 months, the union government finally appointed Vijai Sharma, the senior-most Information Commissioner (IC) as the CCIC. However, Mr Sharma, an officer from the 1974 batch of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is left with less than six months before he retires on 1 December 2015, on attaining the age of 65. 
 
In the past, between 5 September 2013 to 22 August 2014, we had three Chief Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC), under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, who had short tenures.
 
I have since carried our study based on information available on CIC website. The study suggests that the CCIC, who headed the CIC for a shorter duration, have poor records in terms of disposing cases. During the 11 and a half months period to 22 August 2014, three people, Deepak Sandhu, Sushma Singh and Rajiv Mathur were CCICs and together disposed 893 cases or 165 cases per month on the average. 
 
 

Some Observations

 

1. In 3.5 Months Tenure (5.9.2013 to 18.12.2013):
Ms Deepak Sandhu disposed = 796 Cases: @ Average =227.43 Cases per month

{During this period Pendency Increased by 467 cases to go up to 1,946 cases}


2. In next say 5 Months Tenure: (19.12.2013 to 21.05.2014):

Ms Sushma Singh disposed = 712 Cases: @ Average = 142.4 Cases per month

{During this period Pendency Increased by 1,308 Cases to go up to 3,254 Cases}


3. In next 3 Months Tenure (22.5.2014 to 22.8.2014):

Rajiv Mathur disposed = 385 Cases @ Average of 128.33 Cases per month

{During this period Pendency Increased by 4,397 Cases to go up to 7,651 Cases}

Total cases disposed by three Chief CIC in 11.5 Months are 1,893 cases at an average of 164.62 cases per month

 
 
With huge number of Pending Cases (40,019) in CIC and 15,704 Cases pending in Chief IC bench, the Commission requires drastic reforms. This includes the CIC to work on Saturdays like High Court for consolidating the work in registries and ICs finalising orders.
 
 
In addition, the CCIC, who also have administrative role at the CIC, must have at least three years of service left before retirement, to justify the appointment.
 

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