India lawmaker wages war on street food momos

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Image caption Momos are a popular street snack across India

A legislator from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared war on a popular street snack, to general public bewilderment.

Momos, steamed meat or vegetable dumplings, are often associated with Tibetan and Nepali cuisine.

Ramesh Arora, from Indian-administered Kashmir, wants them banned for causing "life-threatening diseases".

He says they contain the food additive MSG which many Indians believe to be harmful.

However, some global studies have shown that monosodium glutamate is not as unhealthy as it is made out to be.

Reaction to Mr Arora's campaign has ranged from amusement to outrage.

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Mr Arora has reportedly been campaigning against momos very seriously. The Hindustan Times newspaper reported that he has been speaking about the supposed bad effects of momos for at least five months.

But it's not just momos that have him worried.

Mr Arora says Chinese street food - also popular with Indians - is also full of MSG and can cause illnesses like stomach cancer, migraines and obesity.

Many Indians are aware that these foods contain MSG flavouring, but this has clearly not deterred them from eating them.

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) in the US says the addition of MSG to foods is GRAS, or Generally Recognised As Safe.

Mr Arora has also met the state health minister, Bali Bhagat, in an effort to convince him to ban the offending foods.

But for thousands of hungry Indians, there seems to be no move to take them off the streets just yet.

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