Close on the heels of troubles faced by Swiss consumer giant Nestle last year after its popular instant noodle Maggi was banned in India for containing excessive quantities of lead, an Indian brand could perhaps be staring at a similar problem now. Tests carried out by a team of Food Safety and Drugs Administration (FSDA) in Meerut has found a Patanjali Atta Noodles sample “sub-standard”, The Times of India reported.
The team also found ash content in the noodle’s tastemaker more than the prescribed limits by nearly three times, higher than Maggi samples. The tests were conducted on three brands of instant noodles- Maggi, Patanjali and Yippee. The samples were collected from Meerut on February 5 and the results came out on Saturday. The ash content was found to be higher than permissible limits in all three samples, all of which failed the test, adds the report. Chief Food Safety Officer JP Singh said that Patanjali Atta noodles had 2.69% of ash content
The prescribed limit for ash content according to law is 1%.
This is not the first instance where Patanjali has got into trouble with the Food Safety Department. Just a month into the Indian market, a customer in Haryana reportedly founds insects inside a packet of the instant noodles.
Ash or mineral content is the portion of the food or any organic material that remains after it is burned at very high temperatures. The ash constituents include potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium, which are present in larger amounts as well as smaller quantities of aluminum, iron, copper, manganese or zinc, arsenic, iodine, fluorine and other elements present in traces. Ash content represents the total mineral content in foods. Although minerals represent a small proportion of dry matter, often less than 7% of the total, they play an important role from a physicochemical, technological and nutritional point of view. Some minerals are essential to a healthy diet (e.g., calcium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium) whereas others can be toxic (e.g., lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminum).
Determining the ash content may be important for several reasons. It is part of proximate analysis for nutritional evaluation. Ashing is the first step in preparing a food sample for determination of specific elemental analysis. When powdered foods, are heated to a temperature of about 500°C for at least four hours, the water and other volatile constituents are evolved as vapors and the organic constituents are burnt off in the presence of oxygen of the air, to carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen and also eliminated together with hydrogen as water.
Ash content is a widely accepted index of refinement of foods, such as wheat flour or sugar. Since the mineral content of the bran is about 20 times that of the endosperm, the ash test is reliable indicator of the efficiency of which the separation of bran and germ from the rest of the wheat kernel.
This, upon further confirmation, if validated might prove to be a big setback to the assurances made by the yoga guru Ramdev. The USP of the Patanjali brand of noodles, according to the company, is its claim of being the healthiest noodles in the market. According to a report earlier this year, Ramdev believes that Patanjali’s atta noodles is on course to oust Maggi as the top noodles brand in the country in the next few years. “Patanjali atta noodles will soon oust Maggi as the top noodles brand in the country. Currently from about a 100 tonnes, our production of atta noodles will be increased to 300-500 tonnes,” the yoga guru told reporters at a conference in Mumbai.