The Maggi meltdown would prove costly. Nestlé lost at least $277 million in missed sales. Another $70 million was spent to execute one of the largest food recalls in history. Add the damage to its brand value—which one consultancy pegged at $200 million—and the total price tag for the debacle could easily be more than half a billion dollars. And the fallout continues.
Nearly a year after the ban, Maggi noodles are back on shelves in India, but somewhat precariously so. The product’s future depends on two legal cases that are working their way through the Indian court system. Both pit Nestlé against the Indian government.
Nestlé, meanwhile, is still struggling to make sense of what exactly transpired. To counter the accusations of Indian health officials, Nestlé has produced voluminous tests—on more than 3,500 samples—that it says show its instant noodles are perfectly safe, with lead counts well below the legal limit. For a 150-year-old Swiss business that brands itself as the “world’s leading nutrition, health, and wellness company,” the idea that it fell short on quality control—especially regarding a substance with such dire health effects—is anathema. But where, then, did things go so terribly wrong?
Since then the Zone has spawned a literary genre of its own. Indeed, it seemed instantly to pass into myth, even possessing its own poetic language. The soldiers and firefighters who cleaned up the site—many of whom died from exposure—are referred to as the liquidators. Reactor Four remains encased in a concrete-and-steel shell known as the sarcophagus. In the Zone, there is a Red Forest; there was black rain. Yet unlike myth, as a professor says in Voices From Chernobyl, a 1997 oral history by Svetlana Alexievich, “We don't know how to capture any meaning from it.” Through three decades of literary response, Chernobyl has undermined the sort of authoritative depiction that might bring closure. But something closed can be forgotten. The finest works express profound doubts about the power of language to absorb a disaster of this magnitude, and so continually reopen it to new ways of being remembered.
The Ploughman’s Lunch is a meal you might imagine a hungry farmer unwrapping from a sack for a midday respite during a hard day’s work in the fields. Well, not exactly.
Perhaps it is surprising, considering my inauspicious start, that my best skill—my only truly great talent, my art—is making sandwiches. For eight years, give or take the odd day, I packed the same lunch to bring to school: turkey cold cuts with French’s yellow mustard on Pepperidge Farm white bread. When I got to college, I often had turkey sandwiches for dinner as well as lunch. Newly sophisticated, I used Dijon mustard and added a leaf of wilted romaine.