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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.