No more #Meri-Maggi

Most of the bachelors, students staying in hostels like me had maggi for our rescue when the hostel food sucked. Little did we know that Maggi is worse than the tasteless hostel food.

Maggi is amidst the controversy, Nestle shares are plunging like never before, maggi is off the shelves from the stores, the whole market sentiment is down towards processed, quick-to-eat foods.

At a time, when India is aiming at becoming a leader in Food Processing industry, this sort of an issue is definitely a shocker. How it can affect the economic activity is another story which can wait for now.

The controversy is over high levels of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) in Nestle’s Maggi noodles and it has put the spotlight on lead poisoning and the effect it can have on the health of young children.

The news first surfaced when Uttar Pradesh food safety authorities performed tests, which showed that samples contained 17.2 parts per million (ppm) of lead, many times the allowable limits which range between 0.01 and 2.5 ppm.

The National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India, based in Bengaluru, has said that beyond a limit, lead would have ill effects on children and adults alike, but, exposure to lead is particularly harmful for children and pregnant women, as they are more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead content. The poisoning can affect the growth of bones, muscles and brain.

While there is no definite data on the number of deaths due to lead poisoing, nevertheless the chronic and slow-poison kind of effects of lead makes it a serious issue.

Effects of lead poisoning in children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based in the US states that a blood lead level of 0.05 ppm (5 μg/dL) or above is a cause for concern in children.

Lead can cause harm and is associated with:

1. Learning disabilities
2. Attention deficit disorder
3. Speech and language impairment
4. Decreased muscle and bone growth
5. Kidney damage
6. High levels of lead are life threatening and can cause seizures, unconsciousness, and death.

Effects of lead poisoning in adults

The CDC, for adults, has designated a blood lead level of more than 0.1 ppm (10μg/dL) as a cause for concern.

High levels of lead can cause:

1. Increased chance of illness during pregnancy
2. Harm to a fetus, including brain damage or death
3.Fertility problems in both men and women
4. High blood pressure
5. Digestive issues
6. Nerve disorders
7. Memory and concentration problems
8. Muscle and joint pain.

With all such data out in public domain, it will be interesting to see if Nestle owns up to the problem or maintains its stand that Maggi is safe and fights the case in Supreme Court.

With Consumers’ trust shaken, Maggi is nearly doomed, as it contributes a significant chunk to the Nestle’s income, it will be interesting to see what sort of a marketing strategy Nestle would adopt, it will be an amazing case study for MBA aspirants. And devising a marketing plan which can bail out Nestle from this whole issue and win back public trust, is a sureshot success mantra.

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