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Maggi: From mania to menace - 2

In last one month, food safety has hogged the limelight compared to all other forms of safety. The 'Maggi' episode is bigger than usual, partly because a government agency found something fishy in a few samples and partly because the brand was such a trusted name in Indian households that the shock value was on the higher side. The other reason for this controversy not dying down easily could be absence of earthquakes or other calamities in these weeks. FSSAI is a SEO sweetheart, thanks to Nestlé India. It can safely be called the first anniversary gift of the Modi government.



Things that took place since I posted last time <http://magicofmortality.blogspot.com/2015/06/maggi-mania-to-menace.html>, in a nutshell, are: 
  • Nestlé India has pulled out 'Maggi' packets from the stores. They denied the allegations of poor health standards but bowed to the pressure of being blacklisted. It has challenged against the arbitrary ban in Mumbai HC. 
  • It's not clear to me if there is an official ban countrywide. However quite a few states have taken that path. A recent exception would be Haryana who found no negative results in their state lab testing.
  • Nestlé India management, to whom this is a severe crisis situation, is predictably on a firefighting mode. To do or die, they have appointed an American PR specialist APCO to fight out the image assassination. Shivani Hegde, who is widely considered to be behind all the glory days of 'Maggi' in India, has been relocated back to India from Sri Lanka. They are at risk of losing a Rs 2000 Cr brand tag.
  • Other noodle-makers are playing it with extreme caution. HUL has recalled 'Knorr'. ITC however looks excited to promote 'Yippee' quoting their high hygiene standards.
  • Government agencies have reportedly taken many similar processed and package food products under their scanner. I've not heard or read about any discrepancy found elsewhere.
  • US (FDA) is going to test on their own.
  • Baba Ramdev seemed to have already warned his fellow countrymen about adulteration in these 'videshi' noodles. After the infamous jump-and-flee attempt at Ramlila Maidan Delhi (2011) draped in a woman's attire, Baba-ji was keeping a low profile for a few years. There was a reduced show of 'Patanjali' logos in Kolkata during that phase. Basking in the success of BJP in 2014 polls, Baba-ji is seen to make an honest effort to stage a comeback of sorts.
  • Celebs are not enjoying at this moment. How can they? They all probably had a subject or two on 'social studies', 'civics' or 'Health and hygiene' etc when they were in schools; at least those who ever went to, before dropping out for creative pleasures. They don't deny the 'morality' aspects being parents or grandparents themselves. My suggestion would be to immediately reconcile with Aamir Khan (SRK has done that!), if you were not on talking terms before. He kind of understands quality control measures of edibles to a satisfactory extent.
  • Mr. Singh is not happy with his boss Mr. Pandey. That could have been a routine situation until we realize that they are the food inspectors who 'exposed' Maggi. They are fighting over who should get the credit.

That's 'Maggi' bulletin for now. I'll keep posting as I'm loving the enthusiasm and the confusion over this drama series. My nails are not growing much nowadays as I'm biting them too often. It's no rocket science to infer that food safety in India was, is and will be at risk - with or without 'Maggi'. There are other sources of lead and MSG and thousands of their cousins. That's not the 'concern'. The sold-out arena watches a play. The actors are busy with their own scripts.
Actor 1 (The manufacturer) - The script is to find a way out of this fatal mess of disrepute of health violations. It's a classic business management challenge. which will later be part of some text book as a case study. The doctors are putting their best knives out when the patient is just one step short of death.
Actor 2 (The government) - The script is to reach a climax that keeps the audience satisfied. The take-off was elegant, the flight was smooth, now there must be a cool landing. Tracing all offenders and punishing them is just absurd. Killing just one brand may not be a hit climax. Maybe slowing down the advances is an option being contemplated.
Actor 3 (The media) - The script is to judge how much juice this story can still deliver. Work is in progress to find an alternative subject suitable for a seamless switch-over.

Only time will tell who strikes gold. Till then, 3 cheers!

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