If there is one testing laboratory that has been at the epicentre of several food safety controversies in India, it is the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata.
In 2002, it was this lab that came out with an explosive finding about the presence of pesticides above the permissible limits in samples of Coca-Cola beverage.
And, some 13 years later, it again stirred a controversy with its report on elevated levels of lead in samples of Nestle’s Maggi noodles. That case came into its jurisdiction after the laboratory in Ghaziabad reported the presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in noodle samples.
The Kolkata lab’s findings validated those reports, and additionally found traces of lead beyond the permissible limits.
Although Nestle maintained its stand on the quality of its noodles, lab officials did not relent.
Standing by the laboratory’s test report on Maggi, a senior official said: “Maybe the samples we got were contaminated. Contamination can happen from air, water or from other sources. But there was nothing wrong in our reporting methodology.”
He claims that the same samples were tested in 13 other labs across the country. And eight of these 13 yielded the same results as the Kolkata facility.
“Call it a fallacy of science. But the same sample tested in different conditions will give different results. We can’t reveal more than this,” he added.