Watching the new channel debates over the last few days one would think that its been a pretty slow week new-wise or the newswala’s have had their head in the sand for a while. They were debating about the whole Maggi noodles fiasco. Looking shocked and betrayed (seriously, some of the anchors should be nominated for a filmfare award) that their beloved Maggi was found to contain 17 times the permissible limits of lead. Along with that ofcourse the entire can of MSG worms was also opened, lots of chest beating and dramatic statements like “can we ever trust Maggi again?”
I only had one question watching the whole tamasha; did you really ever think that Maggi noodles was healthy??
Seriously? At best best Maggi can be passed off as quick relief food when you’re in college and there’s no time or you’re running on your last 100 bucks of pocket money, or you’re a single working person who really couldn’t be bothered to whip up a three course meal after a long day at work. It CANNOT under any circumstances be eaten as a healthy alternative to regular home cooked food.
Some of us have even convinced ourselves that we can ‘make’ Maggi healthy by adding lots of chopped carrots and beans or paneer or egg (I’m going to admit I was guilty of this too)… but really who are we kidding here? If the basis of the dish is maida and taste maker that’s full of chemicals, preservatives and sodium that’s close to half your recommended daily sodium intake no amount of veggies is going to change that!

For those among my friends who say chalta hai…once in a while..the kids like it. Let me ask you, would you knowingly give your kids harmful chemicals once in a while? I think not. Might as well get off the high horse while you’re at it and let them also play with those cheap Chinese toys that contain lead based paint…same thing right?

OK down to the basics. Here is what Maggi contains that Nestle`has actually listed (the hidden gems like lead we can let the food administration guys find out for us).MaggiIngredients

Wheat Flour: Aka maida, refined wheat flour. Maida is made from the starchy part of the wheat grain, stripped of fiber maida contains very little nutrition and is typically bleached using flour bleaching agents like benzoyl peroxide.
Edible Vegetable oil: commonly considered healthy (most of us use vegetable oil for cooking), they are highly processed and involves pressing, heating, various industrial chemicals and highly toxic solvents. (will be blogging about this soon!)
Salt: Now interestingly it seems that in India sodium levels are not mandatory to mention on the packaging of foods, however the order in which the ingredients are listed is a good give away. Manufacturers are required to list the them in order of quantity. Salt is number 3 on the list of ingredients here- need I say more?

Wheat Gluten: This is the protein in wheat, its what makes the wheat dough sticky. Not too bad unless you suffer from non celiac gluten sensitivity (probably the most under diagnosed condition for most people, but that’s a topic for book by itself)

Mineral: Calcium carbonate and guar gum- calcium carbonate is commonly used in food as an anti caking agent, acidity regulator. Not good in large quantities. Guar gum: used to improve shelf life

Tastemaker:
Hydrolysed groundnut protein: This ingredient is basically the substitute for MSG. it provides the umami (savoury) flavour of the tastemaker that we all just love. it also contains glutamates …yes you heard me. so while Maggi can technically say no added MSG it does contain naturally occurring glutamates via this route! This is pretty much what keeps you coming back for more it is highly addictive and targets the same taste receptor that MSG targets.if you have eaten nachos, kurkure, lays…cant stop at one..its the umami!
Mixed spices: (onion powder, corriander, Chilli powder, turmeric, garlic powder, cumin, aniseed, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, cardamom): dehydrated onions and coriander I suppose, so it can last forever!
Noodle powder:(wheat flour, edible vegetable oil, salt, wheat gluten, calcium carbonate, guar gum) sugar, edible starch,
Edible vegetable oil
Acidifying agent (330): enhances the activity of anti-oxidants but is not an anti-oxidant by itself, used as a flavour enhancer, emulsifier and prevents foods from reating to metals like jams, soft drinks etc.
Potassium chloride: Used commonly as a salt replacement, flavour enhancer…you see where I’m going with this!
Colour(150d) -Caramel color- this ones debatable- while some say its ok, if it is prepared using ammonia it is carcinogenic
Flavour enhancer (635): Similar to the Hydrolysed protein targets that umani taste we love, typically used in foods that contain MSG
Raising agent (500ii) Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate- raising agent

The only conclusion I can come to is if I’m putting 400 calories of something into my body it had better provide me with better quality nutrition than Maggi.  Some real food maybe?

If you have something to add or say about this article I’d love to hear your thought.  Head on over to the comments section!

Written by: Pooja Rao

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