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Lead and MSG in noodles

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Lead and MSG in noodles


What to study?

  • For Prelims: NCDRC, Consumer Protection Act- Key features, Lead and MSG- key facts and effects on health.
  • For Mains: Dispute redressal mechanisms and their significance.


Context: The Supreme Court of India has lifted a stay on criminal proceedings against Nestle over the alleged presence of lead and MSG or monosodium glutamate in popular noodles.

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) will now go-ahead with a class action suit brought against Maggi noodle makers Nestle.


What’s the issue?

The apex court had allowed the case against Nestle to reopen after the Swiss food giant had admitted the presence of toxic ingredients in its noodles during a court hearing.

Nestle’s lawyers have admitted that toxic elements like lead and MSG are found in its sample tests conducted by CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute), Mysuru. However, the company has argued that the lead was within the permissible limit.


Effects of lead and MSG on health:


  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including your liver and kidneys in particular.
  • It is especially harmful to infant and pregnant women as it can cause damage to the central nervous system in children.
  • Since lead is a heavy metal it can get stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. In pregnant women, prolonged exposure to lead can result in miscarriage, prematurity, low birth weight, etc.


Monosodium glutamate:

  • MSG, short for Monosodium glutamate, is an amino acid found in your body and most foods. It is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats.
  • When consumed in excess, it can cause several health issues, including a headache, nausea, sweating, weakness, chest pain, tingling or burning in the face as well as neck and other areas. It is claimed that MSG can cause asthma and even brain damage.
  • MSG may cause adverse symptoms in some people, including a condition called Chinese restaurant syndrome or MSG symptom complex. However, there is no definitive evidence that MSG is solely responsible for causing these symptoms.


About NCDRC:

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), India is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. The commission is headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.


Statutory provisions:

Section 21 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 posits that the National Consumer shall have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint valued more than one crore and also have Appellate and Revisional jurisdiction from the orders of State Commissions or the District fora as the case may be.

Section 23 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, provides that any person aggrieved by an order of NCDRC, may prefer an Appeal against such order to Supreme Court of India within a period of 30 days.


Sources: et.