Sub-standard slur on noodle brands

KATHMANDU: Frequent media coverage of the prevalence of substandard food in the market has not been deterrent to for food industries to continue with their unethical trade practices. Those at the helm too are least bothered to book the culprits even as such trend has posed serious threat to public health.

According to Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), over 50 per cent of instant noodles produced in the 2008/2009 fiscal failed to make through the quality test.

Inedible colours and other contaminant were used while production making the ready-to-eat snacks completely substandard food. According to the body, 14 of the 29 samples of noodles were found inedible. Similarly, samples tested in Central Food Laboratory, DFTQC, have also made a startling revelation about the milk, milk products, edible oil, vegetable ghee, pickle, orange squash, flour and processed drinking water. Of 74 samples of edible oil tested during the same period, 47 were reported to be either contaminated or adulterated.

Worse, all the samples of vegetable ghee and palm oil have been found to be adulterated. The DFTQC officials, however, refused to provide details of

such fraudulent noodle companies.

Pramod Koirala, senior food researcher and information officer at DFTQC attributed the mushrooming number of noodle brands to the growing popularity of the snacks among children across the country. “Many noodles companies have made it their money-minting business after pulling children with spectacular ads,” he said, adding that the consumers were not getting nutrients what

the food industries claimed to have included in the noodles.

“We’ve sued such companies at District Administration Office as per Food Act- 1976. Many of them have already faced legal action for undermining public health for their profits,” informed Koirala.

“Though the vegetable ghee has been found to be substandard, they aren’t inedible. It’s a financial crime and punishable act by law. According to him, 86 per cent of mustard oil has been tested adulterated with soybean oil. While, over 30 per cent of processed drinking water were proved to be undrinkable due to the presence of excess coliform and the lack of minerals.

Consumer rights activists feel that consumers, who spend a large chunk of their earnings on

food, should come up against the rampant

adulteration and unscrupulous companies.

“The current trend of

research isn’t enough

to ensure food safety.

The government shouldn’t drag its feet to amend the existing law and

socially outcast the fraudulent industrialists and suppliers,” said Ram Chandra Simkhada, secretary of Consumer Rights Protection Forum.

“Such industries, with little or no action against them for their crimes, have thrived for decades,” a consumer said.