To eat or not to eat
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|   May 28, 2015
To eat or not to eat

The recent revelation that instant noodles, marketed by a particular company have high level of Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead must have left many mothers perplexed.   Although the makers have refuted the allegation, and termed it “surprising” the storm which has been created will not settle so soon.  Till the investigations reach to a conclusion, and the product is certified for adhering to set standards of food safety as recommended by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) noodles will stay out of kitchen; at least for those for whom safety of food is important.

I remember some time ago, it was reported or rather rumoured that a famous snack had plastic in it. Statistically, I don’t know how badly it affected the sale of the product, but it very seriously destabilized the loyalty of its consumers.  Although the story went into oblivion after sometime, the plastic theory remained glued to the minds of people for months. Every time they took a bite of the spicy and tasty snack, a sense of guilt held them for satisfying their appetite with a snack having plastic. A school girl, much hooked to the particular snack found a way to find some satisfaction. “The plastic thing was just a rumour, the snack is plastic free, we tested that in our very own school lab,” she once told me quite happily. I too was relieved hearing this.

But I really hope the story is followed till the brand gets a clearance and the trust of the consumers is restored.

Multiple controversies about safety of fruits and food items find considerable attention through social media. Once a message, concerning food safety, is shared and spread, there is nothing that can easily stop the gradual breakdown of credibility and trust people have for any particular food product in question.  Be it about the way noodles are supposedly prepared with rotten flour or water melons being injected with red liquid to make them more mouth-watering and sweet. A friend once told was me how she has become averse to eating ice creams as she had seen a video of ice cream being prepared with cheap and unhealthy substitutes to get that creamy and smooth texture. In a country where food safety standards can easily be ignored such a thing must not come as a shocking surprise.

These are just a few random instances of how safety of food becomes a non-issue for some food manufactures, with no conscience. When controversies surrounding food items neck out one after another, pushing down the trust of consumers by several notches, it becomes quite obvious to say, food is not such a serious matter for some. Obviously, in this case, our doctors would never cease to get patients complaining of ailments connected to consumption of unsafe food.

What do we do to shield ourselves, our children from becoming a target of swindlers who have found a way to cheat people and put their health at risk? Stop eating a few items, boycott some brands or simply prohibit consumption of packaged food. This may not be a very practical solution to the problem which demands serious and stern intervention of authorities at the helm.  It should be made sure that processed food manufacturer strictly adhere to stern conditions set out to ensure the food being consumed does not pose any threat whatsoever to the gullible consumers.

People from foreign countries often relate stories of how eateries are shut down if ever they are found flouting safety standard. We are yet to see that day when things like start happening in our country.  Before we hope to get any major breakthrough in food safety, we must at least be assured that fruits we eat are not artificially ripened or sweetened. During mango season, carbide is the culprit behind tasteless mangoes, as food sellers do not allow the king of the fruits to ripe naturally. Many such stories will be there in readers ‘mind about how unsure we are about food and fruit we consume how often we are flooded with messages about unsafe food that, eventually damage our trust.

In this scenario, how can we be sure of what we eat?

Why the top names of food business do not deem it necessary to clear off their names when any controversy emerges on social media? I really want to know why the trust and confidence of consumers is allowed to be shaken by video clips of some small scale food factory, functioning in some shanty town.  

I really hope the bosses of food business take such controversies seriously and reach out to the consumers to clear off doubts that spring up with each controversy. Consumers should not be left in a state of utter confusion about the ice cream they are eating or the noodles they are gorging on.  In the food business, or any business, trust comes first. Every now and then if we keep getting stories about food adulteration, we would forever be in a dilemma about what to eat or not to eat.

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