On Friday the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) asked the Swiss food company Nestle to submit a compliance report after the company’s Maggi instant noodles were found to be unsafe and hazardous for consumers. Nestle has to withdraw and recall all the nine variants of noodles from the market and also stop their processing, production, distribution, import and sale. Regulators’ reports say that some packages were found to contain excess lead. Maggi noodles have been India’s most important packaged foods scare for almost ten years.
According to Nestle their noodles are safe. After the media accused the company of failing to react decisively and swiftly Nestle will remove the product anyway. The decision was taken two weeks after the food inspectors made their findings public.
FSSAI says that Nestle is responsible for three violations: the level of lead identified in the product exceeded the limit of 2.5 ppm, the labeling information on the package was misleading saying „No added MSG” and the release on the market without approval and risk assessment of non-standardized food (Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker).
Within 15 days Nestle also has to reply a show case notice and explain why the approval for the product from August 2013 should not be withdrawn. It seems that in 2013 when the product was tested in UP, Delhi, Kolkata and Gujarat it contained 0.153 ppm. According to FSSAI the evidence they have is overwhelming and indicates that the product is bad for human consumption.
The company declared in a statement:
“Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer, to such an extent that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe.”
Six states, a series of important retailers and the Indian army have already banned the noodles. Tamil Nadu was the first state which on Thursday banned a handful of Maggi’s products among other brands of instant noodles.
Paul Buckle, Nestle CEO, declared that although the product is safe they withdrew it since the trust of the consumers was shaken. He added that Maggi noodles will be back on shelves as soon as possible.
Maggi noodles are an extremely popular snack in India. The price of a single-serving is $0.20 (about a dozen rupees) and it takes only two minutes to prepare it. The product is usually served to children and it is available at Maggi points across the country or at roadside shacks.
Image Source: Maggi