Consume at your own peril!

Just because something is ‘easy to cook, good to eat’ doesn’t mean it’s healthy and safe. The perfect example is that of Nestle India’s Maggi noodles, which got embroiled in controversy recently following test results that confirmed the noodles contained added Monosodium Glutamate and excess of lead.

In India, the company was asked to withdraw and recall all the noodles from the market. Accordingly, these yellow packets, one of the most loved instant noodle brands in Bhutan, have also disappeared from the shelves of most shops in the country after Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority imposed a temporary ban on Maggi on June 6 this year.

An Indian shopkeeper arranges packets of Nestle 'Maggi' instant noodles from the shelves in his shop in Siliguri on June 5, 2015. India's food safety regulator on June 5 banned the sale and production of Nestle's Maggi instant noodles over a health scare after tests found they contained excessive lead levels. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA

While the maggi controversy has abated for now, it has, however, highlighted safety of other instant noodles and processed foods in the market. It’s good that other brands have come under the scanner too. The question is what about other instant noodles flooding the market? Are they safe? Have tests been done? Or are we waiting that some other countries do the test and take action first, and then we follow accordingly as it has been happening in most instances?

It has, therefore, become apparent that we question ourselves whether it’s safe what we consume. We will today find a myriad of other instant noodles, processed and junk foods from so many countries, whose names we even don’t know of. How safe are they? For some products, forget the ingredient composition on the label, we even cannot read its actual price, manufacturing and expiry dates. In such a situation, it’s the shop owners who charge prices on their own whims. It’s like no one is complaining, no one is asking, and no one is monitoring.

There is no denying the fact that we are an import-based economy. In fact, imports have been increasing every year and it will only increase in future. Call it because of increased commercialization or changing modern lifestyle, fast foods and processed products are replacing actual meals. And as more and more variety of food products find its way into the country, there is a need to upgrade our testing facilities and develop capacity to ensure what we consume is actually safe and healthy. It’s a matter of public health issue and it’s time we are serious about monitoring the quality of imported foods.

As of now, ‘Consume at your own peril’, at best, is the only statutory warning!

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