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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Now Book Tickets 30 minutes Prior to Departure of Train

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : November 10, 2015

Circulation platforms :  News Media

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
Come November 12, you can book a railway ticket online 30 minutes prior to the departure of a train.
In a passenger-friendly move, Railways has also made changes in its system of preparation of chart, which would now be prepared twice.
First reservation chart would be prepared four hours prior to departure of a train while second and final one, 30 minutes before the train departs, a senior Railway official said.
According to the revised rules, booking will be allowed on internet as well as at reservation counters for a particular train, subject to availability of berths, even after the preparation of first reservation chart.
Railways has also made it mandatory for the concerned department to finalise the reservation chart four hours before the departure of train from November 12 in order to facilitate passengers to know the status of their ticket and plan their journey well in time.
This is a significant move to provide additional booking facilities enabling passengers to buy tickets even after the preparation of reservation charts, the official said.
A second and final chart of reservations will be made available before departure of train and handed over to onboard ticket checking staff.
This exercise will ensure optimum utilisation of train accommodation as well as enhanced earnings, the official said.
Also, there were complaints of delay in finalisation of reservation chart giving scope to touts for indulging in illegal ticketing activities.
Courtsey Financial Express 

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pizza / Cheese Can be as Addictive as Hard Drug

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : February, 2015

Circulation platforms : Newspaper, Journal, Magazine

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:

2015 Feb 18;10(2):e0117959. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117959. eCollection 2015.

Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load.


We propose that highly processed foods share pharmacokinetic properties (e.g. concentrated dose, rapid rate of absorption) with drugs of abuse, due to the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrates and the rapid rate the refined carbohydrates are absorbed into the system, indicated by glycemic load (GL). The current study provides preliminary evidence for the foods and food attributes implicated in addictive-like eating.




University (Study One) and community (Study Two).


120 undergraduates participated in Study One and 384 participants recruited through Amazon MTurk participated in Study Two.


In Study One, participants (n = 120) completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) followed by a forced-choice task to indicate which foods, out of 35 foods varying in nutritional composition, were most associated with addictive-like eating behaviors. Using the same 35 foods, Study Two utilized hierarchical linear modeling to investigate which food attributes (e.g., fat grams) were related to addictive-like eating behavior (at level one) and explored the influence of individual differences for this association (at level two).


In Study One, processed foods, higher in fat and GL, were most frequently associated with addictive-like eating behaviors. In Study Two, processing was a large, positive predictor for whether a food was associated with problematic, addictive-like eating behaviors. BMI and YFAS symptom count were small-to-moderate, positive predictors for this association. In a separate model, fat and GL were large, positive predictors of problematic food ratings. YFAS symptom count was a small, positive predictor of the relationship between GL and food ratings.


The current study provides preliminary evidence that not all foods are equally implicated in addictive-like eating behavior, and highly processed foods, which may share characteristics with drugs of abuse (e.g. high dose, rapid rate of absorption) appear to be particularly associated with "food addiction."
Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"Facebook Privacy Notice, January, 2015"

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : January, 2015

Circulation platforms : Facebook, WhatsApp

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I state: at this date of January 4, 2015, in response to the new guidelines of Facebook, pursuant to articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data drawings, paintings, photos, video, texts etc. published on my profile and my page. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times.

Those who read this text can do a copy/paste on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. By this statement, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and or its content. The actions mentioned above also apply to employees, students, agents and or other personnel under the direction of Facebook.

The content of my profile contains private information. The violation of my privacy is punishable by law (UCC 1-308 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are invited to publish a notice of this kind, or if they prefer, you can copy and paste this version.

If you have not published this statement at least once, you tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in the profile update. 

Anyone can check Facebook policies present on their website at

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"ISIS Flag Among Refugees in Germany Fighting Police..."

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : September 15, 2015

Circulation platforms : Facebook

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
The Syrian operative claimed more than 4,000 ISIS gunmen had been smuggled into western nations – hidden amongst innocent refugees. The ISIS smuggler, revealed the ongoing clandestine operation is a complete success.
Islamic State is believed to be actively smuggling deadly gunmen across the sparsely-guarded 565-mile Turkish border and on to richer European nations, he revealed.
Well, with this new Leaked picture, everything seems confirmed.
Source: Courtesy News360 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Delete American App WhatsApp for Indian Social App Telegram"

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : November, 2014

Circulation platforms : SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
Today our PM Modi ji spoke a slogan of Made In India.
Come lets start with using TELEGRAM an Indian app instead of using the American app WhatsApp.
🔹It is the first Indian social media app.

Think about it...Even the Chinese have refused WhatsApp and adopted the Made in China "WeChat", when we are going to start??
Use Whatsapp for one year & stop it!
Its one year cost is 56 Rupees, and In India there are 20crore Indians....
If we use WhatsApp then 20crore × 56rupees=1120crore rupees will go outside India, to create awareness please send this msg to everyone & download TELEGRAM.

🔘TELEGRAM has more functions then WhatsApp:-
🔸It can send 50MB video
🔸It can even send Word, Excel & Adobe files
🔸In a group, 200 people can be added
🔸It is free of cost, no charges at all
🔸The most important thing, it works same as WhatsApp & the interface is also like Whatsapp only..
So today onwards use 💢TELEGRAM💢
🇮🇳(Telegram) is Indian🇮🇳 

Forward this message to 25 WhatsApp contacts.
Company promoting there website

Get Rs.497.54 talktime. Its true.
Watch in today Times of India newspaper. Page 7.
 Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team: 

Telegram is a company started by 2 russian brothers and having its headquarter in Berlin, Germany. See the Telegram FAQ webpage which says "Telegram is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Pavel supports Telegram financially and ideologically, while Nikolai's input is technological. To make Telegram possible, Nikolai developed a unique custom data protocol, which is open, secure and optimized for work with multiple data-centers. As a result, Telegram combines security, reliability and speed on any network.
While the Durov brothers were born in Russia, as were some of the key developers, Telegram is not connected to Russia – legally or physically. Telegram's HQ is in Berlin.
So the idea that Telegram is an Indian venture promoted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is utterly false. It is difficult to understand the motive behind this campaign associating with Modi's "Make in India" campaign. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Frooti in Market Contaminated with Blood of HIV Patient..."

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : August 2013

Circulation platforms : Whatsapp, Facebook,

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
It is notified for the information of the hostilities that drinking of Frooti/any product of Frooti for the next few weeks is dangerous to health as per the below message sent by Delhi police.
Important Message from Delhi police reads as follows:
"For the next few weeks do not drink any product of Frooti, as a worker from the company has added his blood contaminated with HIV (AIDS). It was shown yesterday on NDTV. Please forwarded this message urgently to people you know".
Therefore all the hostelites are hereby requested to look into the above said message and be cautious about the health.

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

First of all there was no such NDTV report on this issue during any "yesterday" yet. Second, HIV can not spread from person to person via contaminated food material. Third, Delhi police did not put any such notice regarding the HIV contaminated packaged drinking products. So, feel safe to enjoy your favorite mango flavored drink.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Android Operating System is Vulnerable to "Stagefright" Bug

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : July 28, 2015

Circulation platforms : News and Social Media Channels

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
Vulnerabilities discovered in the Stagefright media playback engine that is native to Android devices could be the mobile world’s equivalent to Heartbleed. Almost all Android devices contain the security and implementation issues in question; unpatched devices are at risk to straightforward attacks against specific users that put their privacy, data and safety at risk.
The flaws have been in Android since—and including—version 2.2; devices running Android versions older than Jelly Bean (4.2) are at greater risk since they lack exploit mitigations that have been built into newer versions of the OS.
Courtesy: Threatpost

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

On July 28, 2015, a vulnerability for Android phones was disclosed, which allows a remote code execution over MMS. This bug named Stagefright exploits SMS/MMS clients by sending a corrupted media file to the user. This MMS when automatically retrieved / downloaded by the default client will start executing itself allowing full control of the infected android phone to the hacker. This bug is being described as one of the "worst Android vulnerabilities discovered to date", which has been discovered by Zimperium Labs vice president of platform research and exploitation Joshua J. Drake. 
The attack may work like following: The hacker creates a short video, hides a malware inside it and send it to your number as MMS. As soon as it’s received by the phone, your default SMS/MMS client (with it's default settings) retrieves the infected file, which then executes itself inside your phone. The hacker gains control over your phone,. By control we mean everything including - copy  and delete data, take over your microphone and camera to monitor your every word and move and even erase your phone. 
To get some protection from this bug ahead of the patch release, disable autoretrieve MMS from your SMS client settings. Although clicking infected MMS will bring the infection i your phone. A patch is mandatory to completely prevent the vulnerability but the above method can buy you some protection. Remember most Android phones and their SMS/MMS clients by default will download and process any infected file received, if settings are not overridden manually.
Google knows about the bug, and has prepared patches. So, if you have a Google Nexus, and you have updated it recently, you might already be safe. Sadly, the same can't be said for other vendors with surety

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Adulteration of Regular Rice with Plastic Rice Made in China

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : March, 2015

Circulation platforms : Web, Social media

Circulation geography : Africa, Asia

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
Warning! Potentially deadly fake plastic rice from China now circulating Asia and other countriesFor the past years, China has been accused for producing and selling many fake products including food. This latest news about fake food from China is quite shocking though - fake rice made out of plastic! Yes, they are now selling fake plastic rice and it is very hard to distinguish when mixed with ordinary rice. News reports suggested that the grains were made by mixing potatoes with industrial synthetic resin. There were also rumors of the “cheap but profitable” rice being exported to other Asian countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India.When raw, the rice is supposedly hard to distinguish, but when cooked - a plastic film forms on top of the rice which can be burnt when heated. According to some victims, the said rice remains hard even when cooked. Health experts are warning people that these grains, if consumed, could cause serious damage to our health.

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

Message post on fake rice is circulating all over social media like facebook, twitter, whatsapp etc. People are shocked and spreading this shocking news about fake rice so that it can reach to every people. How ever this allegation is yet to be proved. Rice oriented website Oryza reported on this issue as early as March 12, 2015.  Around July 8, 2015 Times of India, IBN Live and The Hindu reported that the Delhi high court agreed to hear a plea alleging that rice made out of plastic, imported from China, was being sold in the country. This news brought attention of the social media extensively. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath will hear the plea alleging that the "plastic rice" was being sold by mixing it with real rice, on August 20, 2015. We'll let you know more about the issue after that. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Authenticate Drug / Medicine by Sending SMS to +91 9901099010

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : August, 2010

Circulation platforms : Web, Social Media

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
This is very useful to everyone.....In India if at anytime you are worried that medicine is fake or counterfeit, you can test it by sending a 10 digit code as an SMS to 9901099010 and receive a reply back as to whether the drug is authentic.
 Whenever a unit of medicine is produced at the factory, it is labeled with a unique code provided by PharmaSecure. When you purchase a medicine you can send this code, which is printed on the package, to 9901099010 and receive an SMS, which tells you if the medicine is genuine and provides you with a batch number, expiration, and other drug information.

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

The message above is mostly true in Indian context. US based initiative PharmaSecure brought this unique and very helpful service for the people. Though not all medicines yet have this authentication code. Few pharmaceutical companies already tied up with PharmaSecure to print the alphanumeric "authentication code" along with Expiry date and MRP on the pills packaging. One can send the code via SMS to +91 9901099010, within minutes they'll receive a SMS mentioning the authenticity of the medicine. This service is still functional. Though calling the numbers don't work anymore, neither visiting the website This website is also mentioned in some news / blog portal but we found that to be parked webpage. 
We truly appreciate the effort by PharmaSecure, like many other including Interpol.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mother Dairy Milk Found to Contain Detergent; FSDA, UP

Verdict : 

Possible time of origin : June 16, 2015

Circulation platforms : Web, News and Social Media

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
Top milk-product brand Mother dairy may face a huge embarrassment after two of its milk samples have reportedly been found to be ‘substandard’. A food watchdog officer also said on Tuesday that one of the samples contained detergent.
However, the allegations were denied by Mother Dairy official claiming that the substandard milk was wrongly attributed to it as the company conducts ‘stringent quality’ tests.
Chief of the Food and Drug Administration department in Agra, Ram Naresh Yadav, told IANS that two samples were collected from Mother Dairy’s collection centres in Bah tehsil, 70 km from Agra city, in November 2014.

Message Courtesy News Hour India  

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

The Uttar Pradesh Foodsafety and Drug Administration is on a rampage to clean up packaged food products swarming in the Indian market. After Nestle Maggi, this time they founprominent milk-product brand Mother Dairy to be guilty of selling "substandard" milk. 
UP FSDA official in Agra, Ram Naresh Yadav, said to the Press including Daily Mail and Huffingtonpost on last Tuesday that it has found detergent in a sample of milk taken from Mother Dairy's collection centre at Bah near Agra during November 2014. Results showed that the samples were sub-standard and one of the two samples contained detergent. Times of India quoted the same official Ram Naresh Yadav from UP FSDA saying "We have started the process of cancelling the licence for Mother Dairy's Shahpur plant at Bah tehsil for using detergent in milk. Besides, a penalty of Rs 5 lakh will be imposed on the brand's Gajauraha plant for producing substandard quality of milk. An FIR will be registered against them under section 59 (1) of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 (selling unsafe food items) with the court of additional chief judicial magistrate."To note, Mother Dairy was established in 1974 as a wholly owned subsidiary of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), India. It is not yet clear how their "Cow to Consumer" transit path got breached and detergent got into the milk sample tested. 

One more thing, why UP FSDA working on samples collected in 2014 (let it be Maggi instant noodles or Mother Dairy Milk) and releasing the results so late? Was the laboratory tests take so long and the samples were utilizable till now for the processing and testing? If the tests had been done much early (just after collecting the samples and before they expire), why on earth they took so long to come to press. Responsibility of all damages occurred to all the consumers who consumed theses adulterated food products ignorantly should be on UP FSDA for not taking necessary actions and not disclosing the important information in a timely manner. We also checked the UP FSDA website, specially the "Weekly -Lab Reports" section. As of today, in their own website we found the Lab reports has last been updated on September 2013, i.e. nearly two years back!

Friday, June 12, 2015

FSSAI Asked Nestle to Withdraw and Recall Maggi Instant Noodles

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : June 05, 2015

Circulation platforms : Web, News and Social media

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
In the meantime, the Commissioners of Food Safety of various states, viz. the U.P., GNCT of Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, J&K, Assam and a few others are reported to have passed orders prohibiting the said products for varying periods within their respective jurisdictions.
Keeping the aforesaid in view, without prejudice to the rights of the respective Commissioners of Food Safety and the Food Safety establishments of various States and Union Territories and the consumers to file prosecutions against the Company for various violations, and in exercise of powers vested in the Food Authority under Section 16(1) of the FSS Act, read with the general principles enshrined under clauses (a), (b), (c) (f), and (g) of Sub‐section (1) of Section 18, further read with the provisions contained in Sections 26 and 28 and the powers vested in me under Section 10(5) read with Section 29 of the FSS Act, 2006, the Company is hereby directed to:
(i) Withdraw and recall all the 09 approved variants of its Maggi Instant Noodles from the market having been found unsafe and hazardous for human consumption, and stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale of the said product with immediate effect; 
(ii) As already agreed by the Company during the hearing in respect of the rectification of label and removal of “No added MSG”, the Company is directed to comply with the related labelling regulations in this behalf forthwith; 
(iii) Withdraw and recall the food product, “Maggie Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” for which risk/ safety assessment has not been undertaken and Product Approval has not been granted.
(iv) In case any other food product falling under Section 22 of the Act is being manufactured and marketed by the Company, for which risk assessment has not been undertaken by way of grant of Product Approval/ NoC by the FSSAI, the same be withdrawn from the market with immediate effect and the FSSAI be informed about such products within 24 hours of the receipt of this communication, and 
(v) Take appropriate action to re-ascertain the safety of its products in compliance of the obligations cast upon the Company in terms of provisions contained in Section 26 of the Act under intimation to the FSSAI.

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

There is a social hysteria going on over the issue of alleged excessive lead and MSG content in Maggi instant noodles. See our earlier post on the issue titled "Doubts over MSG and Lead Content in Maggi Instant Noodles".
Finally FSSAI took control over the fuss and issued an order for Nestle India on 5th June, 2015. FSSAI convicted Nestle India on 3 counts; 
i. Presence of Lead detected in the product in  excess of the maximum permissible levels of 2.5 ppm 
ii. Misleading labelling information on the package reading “No added MSG” 
iii. Release of a non-standardised food product in the market, viz. “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” without risk assessment and grant of product approval. According to FSSAI "The sample taken by the establishment of the Commissioner of Food Safety, UP and tested by the CFL, Kolkata found presence of lead at 17.2 ppm. The test results received from the GNCT, Delhi in respect of 13 samples drawn from different batches indicate the presence of Lead in excess of the maximum permissible level of 2.5 ppm in case of 10 out of the 13 samples tested."Similarly, State of Gujarat has already issued a recall order, based on test result of 29 samples where Lead in excess of the prescribed limits have been found in 15 samples.Also the state of Tamil Nadu also confirm the presence of Lead in excess of the permissible limits, including in the Noodles of some other manufacturing companies. These reports cumulatively provided ample evidence for FSSAI to conclude that the food products in question being unsafe and hazardous for human consumption. It has been noted with concern by FSSAI that the label of the Maggi product specifically mentions thereon “No Added MSG” whereas the product is found to be containing Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG)FDA (USA) addresses the MSG labelling issue on their website as follows "FDA requires that foods containing added MSG list it in the ingredient panel on the packaging as monosodium glutamate. However, MSG occurs naturally in ingredients such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, as well as in tomatoes and cheeses. While FDA requires that these products be listed on the ingredient panel, the agency does not require the label to also specify that they naturally contain MSG. However, foods with any ingredient that naturally contains MSG cannot claim “No MSG” or “No added MSG” on their packaging. MSG also cannot be listed as “spices and flavoring.”"FSSAI directed Nestle India to 
i. Withdraw and recall all the 09 approved variants of its Maggi Instant Noodles from the market having been found unsafe and hazardous for human consumption, and stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale of the said product with immediate effect; 
ii. As already agreed by the Company during the hearing in respect of the rectification of label and removal of “No added MSG”, the Company is directed to comply with the related labelling regulations in this behalf forthwith; 
iii. Withdraw and recall the food product, “Maggie Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” for which risk/safety assessment has not been undertaken and Product Approval has not been granted. 

In the meantine (June 05,2015) IBNLive quoted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee saying that no "objectionable material" was found in Maggi in the state after conducting 5 laboratory tests.

Maggi products made in manufacturing units on Indian soil are known to be imported by retailers in few other countries including Singapore. Being aware of the doubts over Maggi products Singapore authorities had asked retailers to stop selling Maggi products till they test the required samples for possible hazards. On June 08, 2015 the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore ordered the resumption of the sell of India-made Maggi. Results from AVA's laboratory tests, which cover "a wide range of hazards associated with food", showed that the India-made Maggi instant noodles meet local food safety standards. To note, Singapore is among the places with most stringent rules on public hygiene. When Indiatimes spoke to Nestle representative, they came to know that the Maggi noodles exported to Singapore is identical to the product sold in India and even manufactured in the same plant.

Updated July 3, 2015

UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) also got concerned about the Maggi controversy in India as UK imports large amount of India made Maggi Instant Noodles with Tastemaker. FSA tested around 900 samples collected either directly from Nestlé or via local authorities and port authorities. On July 01, 2015, they confirmed saying that their test results show that the all Maggi Instant Noodles samples have "levels of lead in the product is well within EU permissible levels and would not be a concern to consumers."

On July 2, 2015 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) gave a clean chit to Nestlé Maggi brand products including Instant Noodles in relation consumer health concerns. In an open advisory to consumers CFIA said "The CFIA takes food safety concerns very seriously. We are continuing to monitor the situation in India and are working with our international regulatory partners. The CFIA will advise the Canadian public should any food safety risk be identified." They summarized their investigation results in single confirmatory line; "The CFIA's food safety investigation did not find any health risk associated with the consumption of Maggi brand noodle products sold in Canada."

To note, in between on June 30, 2015 Times of India reported that the Bombay high court allowed the Nestle to export the Maggi Instant Noodles prodoced in India.

So, the question arises is UP FSDA and even FSSAI, India at all reliable (though we know that they are in a controlling position to determine in India what we can buy and what not)? 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Doubts over MSG and Lead Content in Maggi Instant Noodles

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : May 16, 2015

Circulation platforms : Web, Facebook, Whatsapp

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
The 2-minute noodles 'Maggi' has come under regulatory scanner after samples collected in some parts of Uttar Pradesh were found containing added monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead in excess of the permissible limit, official sources said.

The Lucknow Food Safety and Drug Administration has initiated inquiry and written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in New Delhi seeking to cancel the licence for Maggi. The state regulator has also asked FSSAI to order sampling of the product from across the country to check quality, officials said.

"We have tested Maggi samples at Kolkata's referral laboratory. The test results show that there are added monosodium glutamate and excess of lead. We have ordered further sampling," FSDA Assistant Commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav told TOI.
Adapted from Times of India report appeared on 16.05.2015

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

This 16th May Times of India broke a sensational news with headline "‘Maggi’ under regulatory scanner for lead, MSG beyond permissible limit". Maggi is an international brand owned by Nestlé, since 1947. The original company founded much early (1872 AD) in Switzerland by Julius Maggi. Nestlé India Ltd. introduced Maggi brand in India with instant 2 minutes noodles. This created a entirely new food category and grew in popularity. Very quickly, in India Maggi became synonymous with instant noodles. With such popularity India, this news took over the social media faster than fire. Certainly people are worried, but do we really need to?
Reputation of Maggi is now under threat with two counts; 1. Excess MSG and 2. Lead contamination beyond permissible limit. TOI quoted FSDA Assistant Commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav saying, their test results showed Maggi contain 17 parts per million (17 ppm) lead, whereas the permissible limit is 0.01 ppm. For the time being, Nestle countered the claim saying their own records show lead content is negligible and less than 1 % of the permissible limit. Nestle, also mentioned that they does not add monosodium glutamate to the product in question, and presence of excess lead is "surprising" even for the company. Below we're quoting Nestle spokesperson as appeared on TOI report "We do not add MSG to MAGGI Noodles and glutamate, if present, may come from naturally occurring sources. Food regulators in India also do not specify any limit for the presence of MSG / Glutamate," a Nestle spokesperson said. He said, "We are surprised with the lead content supposedly found in the sample. We monitor the lead content regularly as part of regulatory requirements, and tests at our own accredited laboratories as well as those by independent external accredited laboratories have consistently shown the results to be well within the permissible limit." 
Maggi 2 minute noodles bears the licence of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), New Delhi. The Maggi 2 minute noodles packaging in India shows the FSSAI Licence Number 10012011000168, and claims no added MSG (Mono sodium glutamate). We still don't know it is the noodles or the proprietary TASTEMAKER, that found to be high in Lead and MSG. When TOI contacted FSSAI, a senior official there said "Enforcement of the Act lies with state government and they must keep a stringent check. Once we receive communication from the state, we will certainly examine and take immediate cognizance,". So, we've to wait till we get a detailed report on the product in question and the FSSAI verdict on the issue. Till then we shouldn't panic but reasonably avoid the product. 
Now let's engage into the discussion on the harm Maggi possibly have caused among consumers. 
Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal. Lead can interfere with a variety of body processes including with the development of the nervous system. Therefore lead cause damage to many organs and tissues, specially in children. In this case we should be more aware of chronic lead poisoning, which usually turns up to show various symptoms affecting multiple systems/organs. We believe even 17 ppm lead in noodles won't suffice to cause an acute lead poisoning. We don't want to scare you with more scientific details about lead poisoning, which is undoubtedly very very bad. You may have a look at the well written wikipedia entry here.
On the other hand, there is hardly some scientifically plausible reason to be afraid of MSG, abbreviation for mono sodium glutamate. Glutamate or glutamic acid is an abundant non-essential amino acid in our own body, and most (if not all) standard sized proteins have it. MSG is just the sodium salt of this glutamic acid. Sodium is a part of the common salt we use everyday in every not-sweet food. Till 1909 we knew that there are four taste qualities (sweet, bitter, salty and sour) upon which the human sense of taste is based. At that time Japanese scientists found that glutamate arouses another taste sensation, which they named Umami. US Food and drug Administration (FDA) considers the addition of MSG to foods to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). Although many people identify themselves as sensitive to MSG, in studies with such individuals given MSG or a placebo, scientists have not been able to consistently trigger reactions. MSG naturally occurs in many regular foods, such as tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms and cheeses. People around the world, specially Asians have eaten glutamate-rich foods throughout history. That's why glutamate was first isolated as taste substance by Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda, who tried to isolate and duplicate the savory taste of  Kombu, an edible seaweed often used as a base for Japanese soups.  Hydrolyzed proteins likely contain MSG and the Maggi TASTEMAKER contains hydrolyzed groundnut protein, so we can assume that could be the source of MSG found in the tests. But we would hardly be worried about MSG, rather welcome that as taste and flavor enhancer.
So now, we're eagerly waiting for the independent test result for the lead content, which will be the deciding factor whether we try Maggi ever again!

Updated May 21, 2015
After our post, a series of report surfaced claiming that 'Food inspectors ordered for recall of a batch of Maggi noodles from March 2014.' Surprisingly most of the reports including foreign media mentioned FDA behind the recall order. The acronym used un/intentionally poses as the well known of Food and Drug Administration, USA. If one sees the reports little more carefully, they will find the used acronym FDA actually stands for "Food Safety and Drug Administration, Lucknow", which most of us knew as FSDA, Lucknow! Anyway, 'Times of India' separated themselves from the misguiding news media trying to leverage on the TOI scoop appeared at 07:27 PM IST May 20, 2015. TOI investigative reporters took  U turn within about 2 hours after they used some common sense to talk to the proper authority, here the FSSAI. Latest (09:24 PM IST May 20, 2015) TOI report on this issue quoted a senior FSSAI official saying "We have not yet ordered any recall. We are waiting to see the report from UP and may order countrywide sampling after that,". TOI also contacted Nestle, who too confirmed that the company has not received any communication from the regulator seeking countrywide recall.
So, the bottom line is, read the news reports critically (as they are becoming less and less responsible day by day) and don't panic, rather wait for the FSSAI report. The Maggi noodles batch manufactured during March 2014 is least likely to be still circulating in the market after more than a year. As soon as we get to know the supposedly contaminated batch number and manufacturing unit id, we'll let you know. These information you can check on any Maggi noodles packet. So, if you really cannot resist the Maggi temptation, at least avoid any packet manufactured during March, 2014. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

BSNL Offering Free Unlimited Night Calls (9PM - 7AM) from Landlines

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : May 01, 2015

Circulation platforms : News Channel, Social Media, SMS

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis: 
State-run telecom majors BSNL and MTNL are set to introduce unlimited free calls for their landline customers from 1st May 2015. This move is aimed at boosting landline numbers in the country facing the challenge of the growing popularity of mobile phones.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), which offers telecom services across India, except in Delhi and Mumbai, is offering free unlimited fixed-line calls to all landlines and mobile phones (Local and STD) across the country between 9 PM to 7 AM.

The plan will initially be applicable for six months and it will be reviewed thereafter depending on the response.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), which offers fixed-line services in Delhi and Mumbai, too is introducing unlimited free local calling at night (10 PM to 7 AM) for its landline customers to any network. 

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team: 
A news too good to be true, yet it is. Read the media coverage from Hindustan Times, The Tribune or IBN Live

Thursday, April 30, 2015

WhatsApp Brings Calling Feature After Web Browser Connectivity

Verdict :

Possible time of origin : April 2015

Circulation platforms : Web, Social Media

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
WhatsApp Calling lets you call your friends and family using WhatsApp for free, even if they’re in another country. Currently, WhatsApp Calling is available on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry 10.
WhatsApp Calling uses your phone’s Internet connection rather than your cellular plan’s voice minutes. Data charges may apply.
Please note: you can’t access 911 and other emergency service numbers through WhatsApp. You must make alternative communication arrangements to make emergency calls.

 Placing a WhatsApp call
To make a WhatsApp call, simply open the chat with the person you want to call and tap on the phone button on top. 
Receiving a WhatsApp call
When someone calls you, you will see an incoming WhatsApp call screen. You can tap and slide the green button to answer the call, or slide the red button to decline the call. Alternatively, you can tap on the message icon on the call screen to decline the call with a quick message. 
WhatsApp Support Team

 Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team: 
It's a great news welcomed by digital social media savvy people. In January, 2015 WhatsApp rolled out web browser connectivity. According to WhatsApp blog post you can connect WhatsApp client in your PC by simply opening in your web browser. You will be treated with a QR code, which you need to scan inside of WhatsApp application in your Android phone. To do this, open WhatsApp in your Android mobile, click menu - a drop down menu will appear, click on [WhatsApp Web] and scan the code presented via on your PC. This will pair WhatsApp on your phone with the WhatsApp web client.
WhatsApp is seemingly trying to cater to the rising popularity and expectations. They delivered another fabulous feature by adding "WhatsApp Calling". They said this feature will allow you to call your family, friends and relatives using WhatsApp for free, even if they’re in another country. This good news is only for WhatsApp users on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry 10, which is likely the lions share of the smartphone user base. To use this feature and make a WhatsApp call, simply open the chat window, click on a contact with the person you want to talk and tap on the phone button on top navigation bar. By now we've tried this call feature many a times (even with a 512 kbps connection) and can vouch for the call quality, possibly we're getting addicted to it!

Friday, April 3, 2015

"India to See 'Rani Mahal', a Remake of 'Game of Thrones' TV Series"

Verdict :
Possible time of origin : March 26, 2015

Circulation platforms : News Channel, News Paper, Social Media

Circulation geography : India

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
‘Rani Mahal': The Indian version of Game of Thrones!
The show will broadcast on Sony Entertainment TV and yes, will follow the story of George R.R.Martin’s book series (and HBO’s popular TV series based on the novel) Game of Thrones!
And wait till you hear about who’s been roped in to play the Targaryen girl; actress Sakshi Thanvar! Yes, the star of the Ekta Kapoor hit drama serial Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki will star as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons! The new show has been titled as Rani Mahal.According to an Indian news source, Sony Entertainment Television will broadcast the show which will be based on the plot of Game of Thrones. Sources confirm we have Anita Hassanandani as the Indian version of Cersei Lannister and Parth Samthaan playing Jon Snow.Game of Thrones is a popular fantasy series based on the novel series A Song Of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The series chronicles the story of various families that are willing to do anything to claim their dominion over a Kingdom. The lust for power, affluence and authority undermine all other aspects in the globally revered TV series. Game Of Thrones also features explicit scenes involving foul language, violence and nudity. Castles, Kings, Lords, Queens, knights and wild humans are all part of the kingdom. Everyone has a part to play in the show, including the supernatural elements.Daenerys Targareyn is a character from Game Of Thrones who is also referred to as the ‘Mother of Dragons’ on account of the three dragons she commands. Originally a princess, she along with her brother were exiled when her father was killed and his kingdom sacked. The novel chronicles the rise of the determined princess as she gains strength and amasses an army to avenge her father’s death and reclaim the throne. Then there are the Lannisters and the Starks, reputable, rival families who have nothing but spite for each other.Just how Sony Entertainment Television will be able to pull off such a big gamble, remains to be seen. The Game Of Thrones we all are familiar with has a whopping budget to its name and a stellar cast to play each complex, intricate character from the TV series. Sakshi will have to give the performance of her life is she wants to play the Targareyn girl, convincingly that is!
Source : Ary News TV Channel.
Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team: 
Variation of this news is now quite all over the media, say it The Independent (International) or  DNA India or Indian Express. If there is so much coverage by mainstream media, there must be something behind the motivation behind. We'll call this news a claim and discuss briefly what we came to know and it's up to you to judge whether this claim is False or Fact.
Internet is constantly being poured with NEW and EXITING information (including conspiracy theories) which is censored only by poster's belief and intention. On the other hand news-makers are trying to keep themselves updated with all those new information and publish reports as quickly as possible. We hope, our reader's will agree, under such circumstances, few compelling 'fun factoids' can pass on as 'facts' through this publishing pipeline. 
When you read the "Original Message Under Analysis" you can see report says Rani Mahal is an Indian remake of Game of Thrones, even that report keeps on informing us about casting and which role from Game of Thrones to be enacted by them. Hardly anyone bothered to ask the Production House to confirm about the information before getting into passing on the information in more palatable manner or even indulging into discussion whether it's an right decision or not. Huffington Post was not among the 'follow the flock' and they ended up calling the Mumbai office of Sony Entertainment Television to get an official comment. According to Huffington Post Sony Entertainment TV denied any connection of Rani Mahal to Game of Thrones, though they continued to say "Yes, it's true that we are working on a period drama starring Saakshi [Tanwar] set in the mid-1800s, but it is not at all connected to 'Game Of Thrones',". An official source from the same channel also told Huffington Post, on condition of anonymity that, "We don't know how this story even came to be." However, the source, admitted that Rani Mahal was a working title they were using for that show in question but the title could be changed in near future. 
Huffington Post continued their part of digging and informed us that the show at the center of attention here is being developed by Lost Boy Productions. They went on to call Mr. Vikas Gupta, CEO of Lost Boy Productions, who according to their post confirmed what Sony Entertainment TV already told by saying "It is a show about a king and his 11 queens, and it has a number of twists and turns that are similar to those in Game of Thrones, but it is completely original," comment went further with explanation lik"It would be impossible for us to remake such a show with the kind of timelines and budgets we have in Indian television.".
So the closest similarity of Rani Mahal and Game of Thrones we may notice is, both are fictional story at a back drop of old times, and Rani Mahal will rotate around one King and his 11 Queens, whereas Game of Thrones story proceeds with one King for 7 kingdoms. Is it that the news-makers who reported too early on this, actually thought Queens and Kingdoms are pretty equivalent, so the Rani Mahal can be called a remake of the Game of Thrones !