2 Minute Maggi Noodles: To eat or Not to eat?

Cross your heart and say that you have not had Maggi and that you don’t love it and I shall name my site after you. We have all grown up to Maggi and loved it, from our childhood till date, when we are out on mountains, on a trek, bike ride, picnic, anywhere. 
So, why is it that there is so much PR about Maggi for the last 15 days. What is the real deal? Well I don’t know as I am not an insider but having worked with an FMCG (HUL) and having managed food brands like Annapurna, I know how food companies, of the reputation of Nestle, operate. 

The views here are my own basis what I have understood of the situation and is totally an unbiased view. 

What really happened? One of the labs in remote part of the country bought a pack of Maggi noodles, opened the pack, let it remain open for two months and then tested it. Tested it how, tested just the tastemaker and declared it unfit for consumption because of high lead content (4.5 ppm) and presence of MSG. 

There are three basic flaws here: 1. Standard test conditions were not followed while testing, how can the pack be left open for 2 months, let it get contaminated and then test it. The characteristics of a product change when exposed to heat and light and air. 2. Maggi or any food packet clearly mentions how it has to be consumed. In this case Maggi has the process clearly mentioned, we all remember it by heart now, break the noodles into 4 pieces, take two cups water, boil, add noodles, add tastemaker, cook and eat. Why on earth or who in their senses would go ahead and test just the taste make when it is not the end state how it is consumed. 3. The permissible limit for spices is 10 ppm of lead so, the product is fine. Also there is no regulation on levels of MSG. How is it not within permissible limits? 

Given the media frenzy, all states took the bait, tested the product the wrong way and banned the product. How, why? And now that they have taken the stand, they would try to prove themselves correct and the brand would suffer for doing nothing wrong. 

I have seen the level of cleanliness, hygiene, testing, attention to details. Rigorous testing that goes into making s world class product like Maggi and when Maggi is bread and butter for Nestle in India, do you think they would be fools to be lax in their standards and let 30% of their company sales be at stake. These companies grow big only on trust and also the fact that all efforts are put in to put consumer first, always. 

Similar situations have happened with Cadbury, colas, Dhara and all brands have come clean not because they had the money or they bribed the way through but because they were not in the wrong. Their standards were high.

What will happen now?

States would be adamant and not give in for some time, matter will cool done, Nestle will have to spend crores of rupees to build thee brand equity and reputation they have lost in the last two weeks. PR team, QC team and brand management teams will have to work extra hard, sleepless night to get the lost sales back while Top Ramen ans Knorr will see sudden jump in market shares. 

What should Nestle do?

Be aggressive, share their lab reports, sue the govt. and erratic labs for loss of brand image and come back with a bang. 

I know it’s not that easy and only time will tell how the story unfolds but whatever has happened is sad and should have been avoided through better understanding and knowledgeable decision making rather than jumping the gun by everyone. 

I am having Maggi for dinner tonight. Go get your pack. 

41 comments for “2 Minute Maggi Noodles: To eat or Not to eat?

  1. harsha
    June 4, 2015 at 7:54 am

    look at nestles history…this is not the first controversy. Worse …they introduced baby formula food which probably killed many infants immunity due to reduction of breast milk. Secondly they made breaatfeeding out of fashion!

    • June 4, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Every company has their controversies and I am equally concerned as a consumer and have young kids as well, but this one in particular is not handled well by authorities.

    • June 4, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Also foods is not an easy business to be in as issues can happen at every part of the value chain, right from packaging material to when it is consumed. These companies are responsible, at least I can vouch for Nestle and Unilever.

      • Mangla
        June 4, 2015 at 10:50 am

        All over India mothers are pained with contagious eating habbits of their children. There are many indian foods cooked in 2 minutes. These foods are healthy also. So so so jassi ji stop giving your opinion on wrong food. . . Try 2 minutes indian foods or learn 2 minutes home made food. What now government testing on large scale you or me can’t do. May Babaji give you wisdom !

        • June 4, 2015 at 11:03 am

          Thanks for your opinion

        • Shilpa
          June 4, 2015 at 10:09 pm

          Tell you one of the secret, when you cook chow mein in home you use ajino-moto that is MSG only. when you add this ajino- moto do u measure how much you are adding. but as Nestlé has clearly said that Nestlé doesn’t add MSG what ever government findings are that are on natural glutamate that is itself present in all vegetable like onoin , garlic etc…

          So think big and behave like educated…not like illiterate….I LOVE MAGGI N I TRUST MAGGI…..

          • June 4, 2015 at 11:20 pm

            Shilpa, appreciate your educated and researched comment. If you believe I am not wrong taking maggi’s side then please share my post.

    • gaurangi
      June 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      They did not make it ‘out of fashion’. It is the mother’s choice if she wants her child to consume baby formula. If you don’t like it, don’t give it to your child.

  2. June 4, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    how do you justify lead in your food? event if govt allows for poison in your food, does that mean it is conscionable?
    i am worried. because you work for such a firm and your ethics seem to be questionable. if people who work for HUL and nestle think it is ok to have lead in food, i better stop buying HUL stuff as well.

    i agree we can’t trust govt. but certainly we can’t trust companies too. nestle’s chairman has famously made comments that are anti-humanity http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/7udg5z/nestle-s-natural-resource

    i wish you would know better about the damages that MNCs have caused in developing countries elsewhere. south america especially. MNCs are not benevolent angels who do the right thing. they are more often than not, opportunistic businessmen who have no regards to lives of people in poorer countries.

    • June 4, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      I also live in the same country, have kids and consume what you do. Water we drink, air we breathe all have lead and other pollutants. Do not generalize the issue. ITC, Haldiram’s which are Indian companies do not have better standards than MNCs. Reading your comments, it seems you are opinionated, my article is well researched.
      When you are able to offer me lead free air and water we can discuss further. I stand by my opinion, i know it is tough to take a stand against everyone else but so be it.

      • ravi
        June 5, 2015 at 10:53 am

        Boss, We can’t do more in respect of water and air pollution. but we can do in Maggi LEAD issue.

        so its better to wait form statement come from our govt.

        • Hitesh Chopra
          June 10, 2015 at 1:32 am

          Hi I am Harry!!
          Completely agree with you Jassiji!!!Though,I am just
          a teenager, I can undoubtly say that Maggi contains nothing which is injurious to health!!This MSG is natural and does not harm,too!!I can say that undoubtly as my father is an employee of nestle!!!I am not commenting it as an emoloyee’s son but being an Indian.

          People who say that nestle play with peoples’ health,let me clear u one thing that never compromises on quality and those u have seen the labs know it very well !!!People who have clearly read the whole controversy and studied it will ucome to know that there is nothing injurious to health in maggi and msg in it is naturally occuring!!!Please dont beat around the bush!!!!!This naturally occuring msg has no harm on aur health…And for ur information only tastemakers’ sample is taken!!!Do u consume only tastemakers??????

          And the main thing as i have researched that FSSAI labs’ condition is too poor as heard by many who have visited the same!!!

          Nestle had bulit peoples’ trust for over 30 years and media has insulted it alot which has all broken the trust!!What is the fun???Any company who will bulit peoples’ trust in 30 years will u destroy in 2 days just by giving little negative information and insulting d company.Its a complete procedure and not a proper way of dealing with the sutuation.
          And 2 it will affect many peoples’ job too!!Which is not fair and the the procedure to do so should be systematic!!
          So i plz rqst everyone dont blame maggi for ur little knowledge as geard on news channels and gave complete knowledge of the same!

          KEEP CALM AND LOVE MAGGI

          • June 10, 2015 at 2:42 am

            Harry, share the same sentiments.

  3. priyanka
    June 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Giving breast feed or formula is a mother’s choice and her personal decision

  4. Soni
    June 4, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I totally respect you for such an unbiased and sensible post.

    • June 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Please share so that more people can know. Thanks.

  5. Varun Bhardwaj
    June 4, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Jassi ji tussi chaa gae . Wow . U are right there is no match of food quality standards when we talk about nestle and it is really very difficult to stand against everyone who are criticizing ur opinion . I am consumed Maggi thousands of time in my life and I can say I am fit than thousands of people in crowd . Its time to show nestle that we are there true product fan and we will stand by them in there bad days . Thanks for sharing ur opinion

    • June 4, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Well said Varun, it was difficult to take a stand against everyone else. Please share my post if you do believe in it.

  6. Gursharan
    June 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Jassi, very true. Government labs in India are in very bad shape. I have been laboratory auditor for many years. Nestle labs are just simply “state of the art”, even the air is HEPA filtered. I can vouch for Qa systems.

    • June 4, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      I have also seen HUL labs and agree with your views. Please share my post so that more people can know. Thanks.

  7. Rj
    June 5, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Hi, interesting article. Could you attach a link to where it is mentioned that the procedure for testing is wrong, what would be the right procedure or lab reports? Alrepor

    I have seen the likes of coca cola and other brands manufacturing, they are clean but mistakes with QC do happen.

    • June 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Looks like you have not been following the controversy on television. All flaws were shared. For understanding you will have to read the FSSAI guidelines (which I have read as I was managing Annapurna, Captain cook and other brands). Its available on their website, its a fairly long document. You may read there.

      • Rj
        June 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm

        Yeah haven’t watched TV in months now. I will check the FSSAI guidelines then.

  8. ravi
    June 5, 2015 at 10:48 am

    This is the problem of INDIAN’S, they don’t trust on their own labs.

    • June 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      I have seen both govt. labs and labs at MNCs having worked with HUL. Govt. labs are in patheic condition. And please refrain from making general remarks about Indians. This is a well researched article.

  9. Kamal1975
    June 5, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    The article is completely spot on and bold enough to stand up at a time when the rumour mongering is going on all across. It is very easy to find a lucrative a soft target without checking the facts-
    Some questions-
    – Why the results have come positive only now after 30 years of existence- Were they never tested till now??
    – Did some one bother to ask why the results are varying across the labs/ states for same batches
    Rather than focusing on the core issue the focus has unfortunately been to politicise the issue out of context. Please read the state of affairs of the FDA labs in the country and judge yourselves why the results have been all over the place.
    http://www.cseindia.org/node/4
    http://www.fnbnews.com/article…§ionid=1
    The link is to the website of Sunita Narayan and not from any MNC – the article is from an ex director of Central Food Labs and clearly defined the reasons. Go through and judge for yourselves to decide!!

    • June 6, 2015 at 4:33 am

      Thanks Kamal. This is one of the few well researched response. People have been abusing me left right and centre for taking this stance and also banning me from some forums on social media.

  10. ANIL KUMAR
    June 6, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Well, as far as I understand,

    1. All the 9 variants should not be tagged together.

    2. Maggie has ” NO ADDED MSG” written on its pack. As per US FDA, in products which contain MSG, “NO MSG” / ” NO ADDED MSG” must not be written yet knowingly, Nestle had it on its pak. The apparent reason for using such information on the label is driven by an undue commercial advantage/benefit to create an erroneous impression in the minds of consumers regarding the character of the product. Hence Nestle which claims equal standards across the globe has been cheating all these days w.r.t. labelling beyond doubt.

    3. Nestle claims that Govt. procedure @ lab testing is different from what it is doing.. Now which is a standard and right procedure.. I don’t know.

    4. violating the FSS Act in relation to ‘Maggie Oats Masala Noodles’, Nestle failed to respond on “safety or risk assessment” issues raised by the FSSAI in February, 2015. According to the order, Nestle India has started selling the product with a ‘product approval’ under FSS Act. “The company (Nestle India) has acted in violation of law,”

    5. Leave about PPM levels.. before and after cooking of lead, it is beyond doubt that higher consumption of maggi increases absolute quantity of lead.. of course, anything in excess is harmful., Hence i feel that there be a ” Statutory warning” on Maggi packs for limited consumption. Most of we consumers are not much aware of these safety standards and health precautions.. I feel that many of the girls who are welloff, are also malnourished due to such food and are being ending up with thyroid/… some or the other health issues.

    6. Happy for ‘state of the art’ labs in Nestle but that doesn’t conclude it maintains highest standards. Five star hotel kitchen may be more state of the art but grandma’s kitchen might be more nutritious.

    Hence FSSAI, which takes responsibility of Public Health has done a right thing. Let us not be biased and take a stand but instead wait for a detailed report and then go ahead.. Till then NO MAGGI 🙁

    • June 6, 2015 at 4:38 am

      Fully agree there with you and it’s a matter of discipline. I am a health freak (read some of my other articles) and exercise control that these are consumed in moderation but no denying the fact that food safety standards are lax in our country and companies do take advantage while still operating within permissible limits. FSSAI is still evolved and has revised most of its regulations about 8 years back (which were earlier revised God knows when). Lot needs to be done and one needs to be aware as a consumer.
      I also see links of this episode to the mid day meal tenders (enough said).

  11. imcha
    June 6, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Wow jassisays,

    15 mins ago,Just when I decide not to buy those momos and cook a meal myself, I see this mega packet of Maggi in my thatch kitchen. And now I read this! I have not been following the story as much on TV but clearly the last two weeks ago, I checked at the shop to buy myself a mens product, there was none that didn’t come with a “whitener” Effect.

    I am really hungry as I type this, tomorrow I will have that leftover Maggi for sure.

    Not sure what I am typing here from my phone, but that’s my two cents of thought in two Minutes.

    Maggi!

    • June 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Stock up on Maggi while it is being taken off shelves.

  12. gaurangi
    June 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Sir, lead is omnipresent. Even the food you cook at home has it. It is not the company’s fault if their product had leaf, because everything hads it! Even if they ban Maggi and and you stay eating the so called ‘ healthy home cooked food’, the leaf content is not going to be any different. The permissible limits are set because consumption beyond that limit is harmful and the government allows lead in the food because these days, it is impossible to get lead free food anywhere!

    Why kill a brand because of some tests conducted in the wrong way? Are you going to eat a bowl full of Maggi or a bowl full of tastemaker?

    I have seen Nestle’s labs with my own eyes and I am more than sure that they are state of the art. I am ready to bet my Economics degree from a top uk university for that.

    • June 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Gaurangi, you are one of the very few people who understand this. God bless. Banning maggi will impact close to 20000 jobs and their families and ancillary industries.

  13. Rohan
    June 7, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Hi,

    My question is simple. You claim that all other states followed the same process of using a two month old packet for testing.

    Given that the test conducted by other states were just days after the initial ban, how did the other states manage to get Maggi to a two month old state?

    I am sorry but your article seems very biased to me. I think it’s your subconscious retailer talking!

    • June 7, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      This is not a dynamic article which updates automatically with time. Was written a week back. That was the info then.

    • June 7, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Also I am not a retailer, I run a fashion business and it’s my point of view. You are free to have your opinion.

  14. priya padhi
    June 8, 2015 at 2:04 am

    maybe the lead in maggi is within.permissible limits but it should have bern mentioned on the pack that its meant for limited consumption.lead causes neurogical disorders which is a very serious issue.also the monosodium glutamate found in it causes mental disorders.just like its mentioned on cigarette packs that its injurious to health it should be mentioned on.maggis pack that its not meant for frequent use.then its upto the consumers to decide whether they want to have it or not.otherwise this comes under cheating

  15. priya padhi
    June 8, 2015 at 2:18 am

    just because air and water contain.lead is it good and is peoples health in this century improving or deteriorating.dont you filter your water and wash yourvegetables.if its all o.k.dont do it.have tap water.air is having lead because of pollition and food is contaminated because of pesticides.should all this be stopped or be given clean chit just because its happening and is the order of the day.shouldnt we all try to make things better.im very happy maggi has been banned.similar tests should be done on other things also

    • June 8, 2015 at 5:47 am

      Priya, banning is not the solution. Every action impacts lot of things, in this case close to 20000 poor people going jobless, about 30000 more in ancillary industries and all their families and they are labour class.
      When have you seen murder, trial, conviction and hanging within 15 days. It’s not fair. Don’t you smell foul play where other Indian companies like ITC are involved, something to do with a very big contract with one of the state governments which I can’t talk about here. It all sounded very well orchestrated where lot of money changed hands.

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