Spare the Rod and…….Spoil the Fast Food companies

In case some of you have missed the controvercial news about 10 days back, here is a brief update:
Several popular Fast Food selling brands were tested by CSE(Centre for Science & Environment, headed by Sunita Narain) for the accuracy of their claims on the contents shown on the label. The findings confirmed some of my worst fears about the claims of these well known brands.The famous culprits are: Nestle(selling Maggi Noodles), Pepsi(selling ‘Snack Smart’), Haldiram(selling Aloo Bhujia) and Nissin Foods,Japa(selling Top Ramen Noodles). And What are they guilty of? False claims with regard to contents of sugar, salt and Trans fat. The magnitude of their unethical false claims can be gauged by the consequences on the health of the GEN X. For the uninitiated, the serious consequences are the following:
Excessive SUGAR: Diabetes & Obesity
Excessive Salt SALT: Blood Pressure
Transfat: Blocks in the Heart arteries.
A detailed report is provided in the link from The Times Of India.

Indian companies have traditionally indulged in quality and system manipulations. For instance consider the ISO quality systems. ISO started off with a lot of fanfare in the 90s. People thought this would ultimately put an end to all our quality ills. On the contrary many Indian Companies, while paying only lip service to quality and systems, mastered the art of showing compliance to Systems. Indian Companies know how to outsmart the auditors by creating documents and records just before the auditors arrived!

All companies have quality control departments. They are in fact quality manipulating departments. Total Quality Management,TQM, in India, stands for Total Quality Manipulation! Unfortunately, even MNCs, who are known to care for quality overseas, started playing the game in India on Indian terms. What are the reasons?:
1. This is the only way to compete with Indians on the Indian soil. They have to build their famous brands in India by hook or crook through misbranding & misinformation
2. More importantly, where are the product liability laws in India? There is no legislation on food labels nor is there any cap on contents of forbiddent items. Therefore, companies making false claims virtually go scotfree.
3. Companies know there is no chance whatsoever of losing name and fame by occasional reports from CSE. Companies can contest the results and get away because the claims and counterclaims are not put to close scrutiny. At worst, there would be a heated TV debate, which is promptly forgotten by consumers within a short time.
4. Finally, there is no public awareness on these issues. How many people understand, for instsnce, what is trans-fat or saturated fat etc.
There is a growing affluent middle class waiting to gobble up and experiment whatever fast food is offered. But the tragedy is that the same affluence that has given them access to junk foods, can prove to be a curse, as it can transform our youth into unhealthy adults suffering from Obesity, Diabetes and Hypertension.
The solution lies in consumer activism. Imagine what will happen if, for instance, all the consumers unitedly decide to boycott fast foods sold in the market for just a couple of weeks? By doing so, there is no doubt that the consumers can bring even the mighty MNCs to their knees. For this to happen, however, more organizations like CSE will have to campaign to create awareness among the lay public.

Published in: on April 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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