Lab tests conducted by CERS clearly indicate that the ‘health’ quotient claimed by instant noodles brands is far from being true. As a matter of fact, high levels of sodium, fat and carbohydrates in these food products can lead to life-threatening conditions like cardiac disorders and blood pressure
Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education & Research Society (CERS) has said its in-house laboratory test of 15 popular instant noodles brand reveals that most health claims made by these brands are deceptive and are way below in nutrition levels as well.
The fifteen brands tested included brands like Maggi, Top Ramen, Knorr, Ching’s Secret, Sunfeast Yippee!, Foodles, Tasty Treat and Wai Wai X-press. The results were shocking. “Some of the common findings for most of the samples tested included high level of sodium salts, significantly low fibre content, high amount of fats and several other shocking factors. The brands that claimed ‘Healthy’, ‘wholesome’, ‘enriched with proteins and iron’ and ‘full of fibre’, were refuted by the test findings as going way above the safe limit of several harmful elements,” CERS said in a release.
7 Facts about Instant Noodles
• Noodles are junk food with little nutrition value in spite of all the health claims. Avoid if you can. If you cannot, reduce consumption.
• Check the shelf life. It varies from brand to brand.
• Increase the protein value of the noodles by adding an egg or a small amount of soy products such as tofu or soya nuggets. Add vegetables and fruits either for garnishing or as an accompaniment.
• Majority of salt is added to noodles through the seasoning supplied in sachets. So reduce the sodium content by using the minimum amount of seasoning, preferably half of the sachets.
• Instant noodle soup is often high in salt; limit its consumption to avoid excess intake.
• Instant noodles can serve as breakfast or evening snacks but not as main meals. Limit the consumption to a maximum of once in a week or ten days.
• Pregnant women and infants (below 12 months) must avoid consumption of instant noodles containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) as flavour enhancer (INS 621). So watch out for MSG or INS 621 in the list of ingredients given on the packet.
CERS said the domestic market for instant noodles in worth Rs1,000 crore and most people consume it more than once in a fortnight. This led the consumer organisation to probe claims made by these brands.
It said, “Some of the brands like the ‘Top Ramen Oat Noodles’ and ‘Maggi Vegetable Multigrainz Noodles’ that prominently claimed to be relatively healthier than their counterparts through their advertisements, were actually fooling their customers in to eating noodles and harming their health.”
Instant noodles, while chiefly targeted at easily impressionable kids, are also now promoted across all age groups as a healthy snacking option. But the tests conducted by CERS clearly indicate that the ‘health’ quotient claimed by instant noodles brands is far from being true. As a matter of fact, high levels of sodium, fat and carbohydrates in these food products can lead to life-threatening conditions like cardiac disorders and blood pressure problems.
None of the brands were able to substantiate their tall claims of being healthy snacking option when interpreted against Food Standards Agency (FSA) of UK standards for fats and sodium, CERS said in a release.
Though there are no specific Indian Standards to check the level of nutrition when it comes to instant noodles, CERS conducted the tests for basic parameters that included total ash, moisture level, acid insoluble ash, fat, crude fibre, proteins, sodium, calcium, iron, carbohydrate, and energy. During these tests, the labelling information on each of the samples was checked against the regulations laid down by Food Safety and Standards (packaging & labelling) Regulations, 2011. Contrary to their claims of being a harmless snack, most of the instant noodles brands have emerged to be a dangerous choice in the present day stressful lifestyle, the release said.
CERS has recommended several actions through which the government can force the instant noodle manufacturers to improve their products and safeguard the health of the consumers. Some of these recommendations include suggestions like the Food Safety and Standards authorities take note of the salt minimization efforts put forth by UK FSA and compel manufacturers to reduce the sodium levels. The consumer body has also suggested stringent norms for packaging wherein manufacturers highlight the content of their products explicitly making it easier for the consumer to notice.
Citing the major role played by the misleading advertisements of instant noodles, CERS has recommended that Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) implement stricter conditions forcing manufacturers to refrain from making false claims to innocent consumers. The recommendations are also directed towards manufacturers, asking them to reduce the level of harmful elements like sodium and increase the amount of nutritional elements like calcium and iron.
CERS said it sent out the results of each brand to its respective manufacturer seeking clarification about the alarming results. However, none of the manufacturers responded to the queries raised by CERS, the release added.
Both Nitin Gadkari and Niranajan Hiranandani are facing severe allegations of wrong-doings. So, it is most ironic that the developer, as head of the Indian Merchants’ Chamber, has invited the beleaguered BJP president on his “Vision for India and Mumbai Development”. Unfortunately, at this point of time, people want to hear something else from Mr Gadkari
Here are some crucial things to keep in mind while buying your dream house which will help you navigate the treacherous world of real estate
The sheer number and size of advertisements and marketing gimmicks for real estate cannot be ignored. In and around New Delhi, we see them on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, pop-ups and other tricks on internet websites, direct and indirect visuals on television, promotions in movies and hoardings at every conceivable location and so on. It has come to a point where fields and land along the roads leading out of Delhi, in any direction, are now being promoted as the future of urban development, where it will create great wealth and eventual posh destinations.
However, if you are not careful, many of these literal “castles in the air” will likely end up as destinations for your money—at a very rapid rate of depletion.
Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind, if you want to pre-empt and prior to putting your money down. Do this with a cool head and do not fall for hard-sell hustles like “prices are going up” or “last few apartments are left in the project”, and so on. Always be prepared to walk away without feeling remorseful.
1) Do not place any money as booking advance with a broker or intermediary, in cash or cheque, by way of a “credit note” or anything else. A good broker will try to keep his books and liabilities clear by not bringing transit money into his accounts. A crooked broker, on the other hand, will try and entice you to do exactly the opposite. Insist on direct payments to the builder, or the bank if it's a loan.
2) Ask for a copy of the Builder Buyer Agreement (BBA), or the Letter of Allotment, or the Terms & Conditions (or whatever the builder calls it), before you place any advance with a builder or promoter. If you do not get hold of one, for any reason, then walk away. Very often, buyers are stuck with extremely one-sided BBAs, and the threat of forfeiture of advance is real.
3) One clause to look out for in the BBA is the one which permits a builder to increase the chargeable area, arbitrarily, without notifying the buyer. Read this carefully. Also double check on what rate the builder will use for such a clause, if you do agree to it. Paying “market rate” for additional area charged for with the last payment can be an unpleasant surprise.
4) Rates of interest and method of calculating interest on delayed payments needs to be spelt out clearly and accurately. At the same time, a clause covering early or excess payments by the buyer must be part of the BBA, at the same rate of interest. Do not accept overdue interest charged without getting details of how the figure was arrived at.
5) Single or joint ownership is a very personal matter and you need to be clear on this before you sign anything. So please get good advice from your tax and legal consultants prior to documentation. Do not leave this to the last moment when emotions can run high.
6) Construction-linked payments make a lot of sense. Ask for a proper statement of account, within this context, every time the builder raises a demand note. Do double-check with a site visit. If the amounts are similar, which they often will be, make a small surplus payment of a few rupees so that your statement is always in credit and each payment is of a slightly different amount.
7) Get the builder to define well in advance, at the time of paying the booking amount, what ‘possession’ will mean. It should mean when all codal formalities and adherences required for registration are complied with, and when you are ready to occupy a completed project. Do not fall for terms like “temporary possession” for fitments and final interior work.
This is by no way a composite list, but most of these pointers will help you differentiate the good builders from the bad. Of course, nothing like it if a builder is highly transparent—specifics on carpet area for instance.
In the next article, we shall try and list out what you can demand and expect at time of delivery, and how you could go about issues in case of problems.
However, in a sector as unregulated as real estate, the golden rule is caveat emptor or ’let the buyer beware’. This is of paramount importance—look after your own interests before parting with your hard-earned money.
(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)