Published On : Thu, May 21st, 2015

Health Alert: Beware! Instant Maggi may contain harmful lead and MSG

The instant Maggi noodles that are so popular with kids and their moms may actually be quite harmful. Officials find excessive lead and MSG – 2014 Batch asked to be withdrawn

Nagpur: Responding to the Food Safety and Drug Administration Asst. Commisioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav’s complain that samples of Maggi noodles tested by them contained excessive limits of lead and MSG Nestle has been asked to withdraw a 2014 batch of the noodles from the market.

The instant ‘2 minute’ Maggi noodles that were introduced in India by MNC Nestle about thirty years ago, soon had taken the country by storm. They became an instant hit not just with mothers, but with children themselves, who were exposed to constant advertising on all channels about how tasty and how easy to make they are.

In Nagpur fast food places, one can see Maggi almost a generic food. Instead of calling their dish ‘noodles’ it is called ‘Maggi’ – and it is literally the Nestle noodles that are ‘spiced’ up further with other masalas and served up as a dish. Quite a popular one, I may add.

This same 2-minute noodles ‘Maggi’ has come under regulatory scanner after samples collected in some parts of Uttar Pradesh were found containing added monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead in excess of the permissible limit, official sources said.

The Lucknow Food Safety and Drug Administration has initiated inquiry and written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in New Delhi seeking to cancel the licence for Maggi. The state regulator has also asked FSSAI to order sampling of the product from across the country to check quality, officials said. The FSDA Asst. Commissioner Vijay Yadav has confirmed that Maggi samples tested at Kolkatta’s referral lab have confirmed excessive amounts of MSG and lead, both.

However, Nestle, which manufactures Maggi, maintains that it does not add monosodium glutamate to the product, whereas presence of excess lead is “surprising” for the company.

“We do not add MSG to MAGGI Noodles and glutamate, if present, may come from naturally occurring sources. Food regulators in India also do not specify any limit for the presence of MSG / Glutamate,” a Nestle spokesperson said. He said, “We are surprised with the lead content supposedly found in the sample. We monitor the lead content regularly as part of regulatory requirements, and tests at our own accredited laboratories as well as those by independent external accredited laboratories have consistently shown the results to be well within the permissible limit.”

According to Yadav, test results showed Maggi containing 17 parts per million lead, whereas the permissible limit is 0.01ppm. Nestle says its records show lead content is negligible and less than 1 % of the fixed limit.

Monosodium glutamate, a kind of amino acid which occurs naturally in many agricultural products, is often also added artificially to packaged food to enhance flavour. Regulators and experts say such additives can be harmful for health, mainly for children. Food safety regulations mandate companies to specify on the packaging if MSG has been added.

Harmful effects of lead

Lead is considered so dangerous that the level of its content in non food products like paints is also monitored strictly in USA. For it to be found in food is disturbing. For it to be found in food advertised specifically for children is criminal. Please understand what lead can do –
Symptoms of Lead Exposure

Lead poisoning can be a serious public health threat with no unique signs or symptoms. Early symptoms of lead exposure may include:

  • persistent fatigue
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach discomfort and/or constipation
  • reduced attention span
  • insomnia

Failure to treat lead poisoning in the early stages can cause long-term or permanent health damage, but because of the general nature of symptoms at early stages, lead poisoning is often not suspected.

In adults, lead poisoning can cause:

  • poor muscle coordination
  • nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body
  • increased blood pressure
  • hearing and vision impairment
  • reproductive problems (e.g., decreased sperm count)
  • retarded fetal development even at relatively low exposure levels

In children, lead poisoning can cause:

  • damage to the brain and nervous system
  • behavioral problems
  • anemia
  • liver and kidney damage
  • hearing loss
  • hyperactivity
  • developmental delays
  • in extreme cases, death

Although the effects of lead exposure are a potential concern for all humans, young children (less than seven years old) are most at risk research has found. Since children’s bodies are growing, they absorb anything faster than adults so harmful substances can cause more damage in children.

MSG and its adverse effects

As per Dr. Mercola, an expert on ‘natural health’ in the USA –
A widespread and silent killer that’s worse for your health than alcohol, nicotine and many drugs is likely lurking in your kitchen cabinets right now.

“It” is monosodium glutamate (MSG)1, a flavor enhancer that’s known widely as an addition to Chinese food, but that’s actually added to thousands of the foods you and your family regularly eat, especially if you are like most Americans and eat the majority of your food as processed foods or in restaurants.

MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.

MSG is more than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.

While MSG’s benefits to the food industry are quite clear, this food additive could be slowly and silently doing major damage to your health.
MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees, and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities
Common adverse effects linked to regular consumption of MSG, include: obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue and disorientation, depression, rapid heartbeat, tingling and numbness.
So now moms you decide whether a product that allegedly contains both is to be fed to your children or not. Even if it is advertised by Madhuri Dixit! We don’t feel she must be feeding it to her two sons…

And the question to ask is also why only a batch has been withdrawn? Why has the product not been removed from the market instantly till detailed enquiries and analysis of its contents are not done.

Has it anything to do with the Nestle clout or the amount of advertising revenue it generates?