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PepsiCo, KFC, McDonald’s, Nestle’s Maggi get junk rating for misleading consumers

NEW DELHI, ET Bureau : Food items such as potato chips, burgers and noodles almost wipe out one’s daily permissible limits of bad fat, salt and sugar in just one serving, says a study that seeks stronger regulations and labeling rules for food products.
The Centre for Science & Environment (CSE), which tested 16 popular brands including Nestle’s Maggi noodles, McDonald’s, KFC, Haldiram’s aloo bhujia and PepsiCo‘s Lay’s potato chips, on Friday accused most of these companies of misleading the public through wrong claims and insufficient labeling.

, Nestle, ’s and KFC denied the allegation and said their products were free of trans fats, the worst kind of fats. “Most junk foods contain very high levels of trans fats, salt and sugar, leading to diseases such as obesity and diabetes,” said CSE Director Sunita Narain.

“We need stronger regulations that will reduce fats, sugar and salt in junk foods, and force companies to provide information to the public mandatorily,” she said, opening a new front against multinational and Indian packaged foods companies almost a decade after the pesticides-in-cola controversy.

The CSE’s findings of pesticides in Coca-Cola and PepsiCo drinks in 2003, and again in 2006, had led to a drastic fall in sales growth of the two cola majors between 2004 and 2007.

According to the new CSE study, munching a 65-75 gm pack of ’s American style cream and onion chips will exceed one’s daily quota, while a two-piece chicken meal will exceed both trans fats and total fat quota. Trans fats clog arteries and make them narrower. Combined with large amounts of salt, they increase blood pressure in the body.

The World Health Organisation recommends an adult male should ideally consume not more than 2.6 gram of trans fats per day. An adult female’s limit is 2.1 gram and that of a child of 10-12 years is 2.3 gram. A child who eats one McDonald’s Happy Meal finishes 90% of all his/her daily requirement of trans fats, the CSE study said, adding the company makes no mention of this dosage of trans fats.

Rajesh Maini, corporate communications GM of McDonald’s India (North & East), said the CSE study results are “most unusual” because the restaurant chain uses refined, bleached and deodorised palm oil in which trans fats are so low that they are virtually undetectable.

“We will certainly be examining them closely to see how these unexpected results have been arrived at, what testing methods were used, and comparing them with our own in-house testing,” he added. Spokesmen of PepsiCo and Yum! Restaurants India, which runs KFC and Pizza Hut chains, flatly denied the CSE report.

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