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It’s just a symptom

It’s just a symptom
Highlights

It’s just a symptom. It is rare that people used to Maggi noodles, a foreign-introduced food item for over three decades, enough to call it their “staple diet”, should be raising their voices on grounds of safety.

It is rare that people used to Maggi noodles, a foreign-introduced food item for over three decades, enough to call it their “staple diet”, should be raising their voices on grounds of safety. It is equally heartening that the governments at the central and state levels have rallied to respond to these concerns and act with alacrity, demanding an answer to questions that concern millions of households.

It is commendable because India is known for not being always efficient on safety norms of export and import of perishable items and medicines. Having said all this, is it equally essential to emphasise that this should not degenerate into jingoism.

Once the safety standards are identified and reinforced, the matter should end there. It may not take “two minutes” that the product has famously advertised, it should not also take two years or two decades to resolve the issue.

We should not forget that we are living in a globalised world, where food and food items are an integral part of the global movement discourse. Indian fruits, vegetables, marine foods and even the homely ‘mithai’ are part of the Indian exports that have also faced probes abroad.

Important is to verify and stay vigilant. Having said this, there still are questions to ponder over and reply. Noodles are not ‘foreign’ and most Indian homes consume them as salty snacks or as ‘sevaian’, the most common sweet dish, be it a Hindu home or a Muslim family celebrating Eid festival.

How come India which has had a long and extremely varied culinary tradition accepted noodles coming from Switzerland?

Since the jury is still not out on the safety norms of Maggi, one needs to look at India’s changing food habits – whether or not they follow the necessary safety norms. Is anything and everything ‘foreign’ good and superior? Well, we have gone well past those notions born out of that ‘craze’ for anything foreign. Indians travel across the world as never before.

Lastly, a look at an issue that is talked about, in feeble tones – the health norms. The pressures of food processing industry have numbed our voices against the use of preservatives in food items that cause cancer and obesity. We are producing a generation of obese children, even if food, and processed food, is not the sole culprit.

The Maggi issue is a wake-up call. Health standards need to be looked at more closely and debated, without making Maggi the villain. Our public hygiene and food hygiene need critical look and so do our habits of eating – at home and eating out.

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