Consumer Issues
With consumers wary, Maggi noodles off store shelves
With consumers wary of Maggi noodles, the sale of this popular snack which has been a part of the Indian palette for over 25 years, has taken a hit with chains like Big Bazaar removing it from their shelves.
 
While Nestle continued to maintain that its product was "safe" for consumption, reports of its samples testing positive for higher-than-permissible levels of some substances has created concern.
 
"It was a quick fix snack for my kids, especially when they were very hungry after school but now I cannot take their health for granted," Rameshwari Devi, a homemaker in Noida, told IANS.
 
The developments have also come as a rude shock to hosteller's for whom Maggi noodles were a go-to-food, especially at odd hours. "They were the easiest to cook -- very affordable for us. We now have to search for alternatives if they aren't safe," said Varun Mithani, a hosteller and college student in Delhi University. 
 
According to reports, states and union territories like Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala have sent samples of Maggi noodles for testing. 
 
This follows a recall order for a particular batch of the noodle brand by the Uttar Pradesh Food and Drugs Authority in April this year, after allegations that its samples were found to have higher-than-permissible levels of lead.
 
Amid such concerns, Nestle again sought to clear the air, saying they were officially unaware of any action by state governments, save the directive from Uttar Pradesh to withdraw the batch of February 2014 -- which had already passed the "best before" date.
 
"We have not received any official communication from the authorities so far," Nestle said in a statement on Wednesday, adding: "We are cooperating with the authorities who are conducting tests and awaiting their results."
 
Nonetheless, the concerns hit sales. Speaking to IANS, distributors and shopkeepers selling Maggi noodles in the National Capital Territory said sales have dipped over the past week. 
 
"I used to supply 100,000 packets of Maggi noodles every day to shops in and around Noida. But we have completely stopped supplies since the past three days," B.K. Mishra, a distributor, said, 
 
"For us, 80 percent of noodles sales were from Maggi alone. But now no one buys them. So, we are returning the stocks," added Akshay Kumar, who owns a grocery shop in the southern quarters of New Delhi.
 
Another shopkeeper Ram Prasad said just 10 packets were left at his store and that he would not stock Maggi until it was declared safe for consumption.
 
Even in areas around offices, where makeshift stalls make Maggi noodles and pasta, sales have taken a hit. "Customers don't take even two minutes to stop eating a product if they feel it is not good for health," said Suresh Sharma, a vendor, drawing from how Nestle has been advertising its popular brand: "Two Minute Noodles."

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Delhi government bans Maggi for 15 days
The Delhi government on Wednesday banned Maggi noodles for 15 days, after samples of the noodles were found to contain more than the permissible quantity of lead.
 
Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the government has asked Maggi producer Nestle to recall all stocks of the noodle brand from the national capital.
 
"We have asked Nestle to take back all stocks of Maggi noodles from every store in the city. We are putting a 15-day ban on sale of Maggi noodles in the national capital. The ban will be in force from today (Wednesday) itself," Jain told media persons.
 
He said the ban was imposed as samples of Maggi noodles were found to contain more than the permissible quantity of lead -- which is 2.5 parts per million (ppm).
 
"Ten samples out of 13 were found unsafe after tests," he said.
 
Jain said some officials from Nestle met him and gave their explanation on the issue.
 
"They said the lead content in Maggi was within the permissible limit which we (Delhi government) did not find satisfactory and decided to ban its sale in Delhi for 15 days," the health minister said.
 
"Five samples of masala (taste-maker) were also found to contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) without proper label declaration which falls under the category of misbranding," he said.
 
Jain said that after 15 days, the city government would reassess the quality of Maggi noodles and would allow it to be sold in the city only if it is found satisfactory, pure and in accordance with the norms.
 
He said samples of noodles of other brands will also be sent for tests.
 
"We have issued orders for checking samples of noodles of other brands also. The samples of Maggi noodles were tested in laboratories of the Delhi government."
 
On whether action will be taken against Nestle officials, he said: "We will work according to the food adulteration law and will initiate a case in this connection."
 
The detailed and final report of the test/analysis was awaited and the government will decide on further action once it is received, he said.
 
"We will not tolerate any kind of adulteration in food items. We will take strict action against the adulterators," Jain added.
 
Last week, 13 samples of Maggi noodles were taken for test/analysis, and in case of the masala (taste-maker) part of the noodles, 10 masala samples were found to contain lead exceeding the prescribed limits.

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Personalised debit cards for India Post
Cash management and payments solutions company CMS Info Systems has signed a deal with the Department of Post (DoP) to personalize over 15 million debit cards for India Post savings account holders, it was announced on Wednesday.
 
"The deal, valued at Rs.30 crore, is estimated to be completed in the next three years," an official statement said.
 
At present, the DoP covers a base of around 100 million account holders in India and is in the midst of a phased deployment of ATMs across the country to better service its customers.
 
To facilitate production of personalized debit cards that can be used at these ATMs, DoP has selected CMS Info Systems to supply Rupay-enabled cards.
 
"Our latest deal with DoP will power issuance of personalized cards to complement their ATM deployment plans over a three-year period," said Mokam Singh Matta, head of card business, CMS Info Systems.
 
The personalized debit cards for DoP will be issued on the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) platform and their usage would initially only be on ATMs installed at DoP branches, as a closed loop environment. The cards can later be used on other ATMs with Rupay affiliation, it added.

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