Noodle packets tell an unhealthy lie

Junk food

Instant noodles are not only unhealthy, but are also far from the tall claims that appear on their packaging, says a study by a consumer organisation. Absence of government regulation adds to the fooling of consumers by these brands.

Fat content in Maggi New Vegetable Atta Noodles is 17 per cent against 13.4 claimed. In Maggi Vegetable Multigrainz Noodles it was 16.1 instead of the labeled value of 13.9 per cent. Wai Wai X-press Jain Masala Noodles and Wai Wai X-press Masala Delight  Noodles did not contain claimed amount of iron. They recorded 2.5 mg and 2.6 mg against the labeled 7mg per 100mg.

The study was conducted on 15 types of noodles of various brands by Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS) in its in-house laboratory. As there are no specific Indian standards to check the level of nutrition in instant noodles, CERS conducted tests for basic parameters that included total ash, moisture level, acid insoluble ash, crude fibre, proteins, calcium, iron, carbohydrate, and energy.

Standards for fat and sodium were interpreted against Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom. Packaging norms were tested according to Food Safety and Standards (packaging and labeling) Regulations, 2011.

Some of the common findings included high level of sodium salts, significantly low fibre content, and high amount of fats. None of the brands were able to substantiate their claims of being healthy snacking option.

All 15 brands were found to be high in sodium content. The UK FSA standards consider 130 to 600 mg per 100 g as acceptable. Knorr Soupy Noodles contained the highest sodium content of 1,943 mg per 100 g, while Maggi Meri Masala had the lowest at 821 mg per 100g.

Top Ramen Oat Noodles contained less than 6.8 per cent of oat fibre and about 91 per cent of wheat flour. Tasty Treat Multigrain Noodles showed 72 per cent of wheat flour and Maggi Vegetable Multigrainz Noodles  had 82 per cent of it, and the rest comprised ragi, rice, jawar and corn.

CERS said these brands’ claims of having other flour, implying better nutrition benefits, were not justified. The average net weight of two brands – Top Ramen Super Noodles Masala and Tasty Treat Multigrain Noodles – was found to be less than the net weight declared.

CERS said, “Contrary to their claims of being a harmless snack, most of the instant noodles brands have emerged to be a dangerous choice in the present day stressful lifestyle.”

“High levels of sodium, fat and carbohydrates in these food products can lead to life-threatening conditions like cardiac disorders and problems associated with blood pressure.” The organisation claimed  none of the manufacturers responded to the queries raised by it.

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