Remember when a noodle brand that was synonymous with India got swept off the store racks and left it devoid of the classic yellow colour we were so used to seeing?
Well, then you’ll definitely remember how the media went bonkers over the news and over the discrepancies in Indian food safety.
Every popular media house seized the moment and tried to cover stories of other such products that should be banned. A crowd favourite was – “Products that are banned in other countries, but still sold in India”. Because who doesn’t enjoy complaining about how everything is better in the West? (Not our fault, blame the British)
But amidst all the frenzy, we lost track of the truth behind these tales of foreign bans. In fact, many of the stories were twisted (sometimes quite creatively), to fit the requirement. In other cases, foreign bans were faked, Indian bans were hidden and it was made to look like the authorities didn’t give two hoots about it.
Enough with the ambiguities. Time to bust some hoaxes we’ve bred for too long! Here are the real stories behind some of the products –
1. Vicks VapoRub
What popular media told you: Is India’s favourite over-the-counter treatment for colds and chest congestion actually harmful? Vicks VapoRub has been banned in North America as it is said to trigger asthma and TB. It was also declared as “toxic” by the World Health Organization.
The real story: This report is seriously twisted as Vicks VapoRub has NOT been banned in North America or by the WHO. The product label warns that it is unsuitable for pregnant women and infants below the age of 2. It is thus safe to use if the instructions on the label are adhered to.
Doctors warn against applying it on the nostrils (which is also specified on the label) as the cool sensation it triggers tricks the brain into thinking that it is able to breathe easily even though that isn’t the case.
2. Haldiram’s Products
What popular media told you: Haldiram’s, one of India’s major snacks and sweets manufacturer, had faced allegations from the US in 2015 as it did not meet their food safety standards. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in America banned the sale of Haldiram’s, reporting that it contains a chemical pesticide and salmonella bacteria.
Is the prevalence of these products in the Indian market a sign that the FDA in India has chosen to ignore these reports?
The real story: Though the ban is a fact, it was not ignored by the Indian authorities. The FDA in Telangana and Maharashtra collected 20 samples of Haldiram’s products and subjected them to tests but the results came out clean. Elaborate tests for sand particles were also conducted and the results were negative. It was thus declared safe for consumption.
3. Kinder Eggs
What popular media told you: In the 1970s, Kinder Surprise eggs were banned in the US as they fell under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which banned all eatables embedded with “non-nutritive objects” (such as toys). The FDA claimed that the toy may be a choking hazard to kids. However, Kinder eggs are not banned in India because the Indian authorities don’t feel like it poses a real threat to children.
The real story: Kinder Surprise Eggs are not banned in India simply because they were never made available here! Kinder India offers only ‘Kinder Joy’ eggs that pack the chocolate and the toy in two separate halves of the egg, which does not pose a threat of being a choking hazard.
Even though the ban on Kinder Surprise still remains in the US, in 2017 Kinder Joy eggs were made available in the market as they passed FDA regulations.
4. Raw Milk
What popular media tells you: Unpasteurized or raw milk is banned in Canada and across 22 states in the US. Though it retains some of the natural nutrients that are lost through pasteurization, raw milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. It is however still legal in India.
The Real Story: Though not popular knowledge, according to the Law of Prevention of Food Adulteration (1976), the sale of untreated milk is, in fact, illegal. It is one of the food safety laws that are prevalent but not strictly adhered to.
Image Credits: Google Images