In­dia bans Nestle in­stant noodles af­ter safety scare

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY BHU­VAN BAGGA

In­dia’s food safety reg­u­la­tor on Fri­day banned the sale and pro­duc­tion of Nestle’s Maggi in­stant noodles over a health scare af­ter tests found they con­tained ex­ces­sive lead lev­els.

The Food Safety and Stan­dards Author­ity of In­dia (FSSAI) said tests by some states had found too much lead in the prod­uct, and or­dered Nestle to halt man­u­fac­tur­ing.

In a state­ment, it said it was order­ing Nestle In­dia to “with­draw and re­call all the nine ap­proved vari­ants of its Maggi In­stant Noodles from the mar­ket ... and stop fur­ther pro­duc­tion.”

Nestle, which says the lead con­tent in its Maggi noodles is well be­low In­dia’s legal limit, had al­ready with­drawn the prod­uct from sale as it tries to con­tain the grow­ing scan­dal.

On Fri­day its global chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Bul­cke said the prod­uct was “safe for con­sump­tion.”

“We de­cided to take off the noodles from the shelves as there was con­fu­sion about the safety,” he said at a press con­fer­ence in New Delhi.

“The safety of our con­sumers is para­mount. We are work­ing with the au­thor­i­ties to clear up this con­fu­sion.”

At least six states in­clud­ing In­dia’s cap­i­tal have an­nounced tem­po­rary bans on the sale of the in­stant noodles in the past few days, af­ter of­fi­cials said test re­sults showed high lead lev­els.

The FSSAI said the pres­ence of lead “be­yond per­mis­si­ble lev­els” could make the prod­uct “un­safe and haz­ardous,” cit­ing risks of dam­age to the kid­neys and the ner­vous sys­tem.

Ac­tivists in the eastern city of Kolkata on Thurs­day burned packets of the noodles in protest, un­der­scor­ing the scale of public anger.

Nestle has been sell­ing its Maggi brand in In­dia for three decades and has 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s in­stant noo­dle mar­ket.

Celebrity Back­ers

The prod­uct — mar­keted as a quick and healthy snack — grew in­creas­ingly popular as more and more In­di­ans moved away from their homes to study or seek work.

It emerged as one of In­dia’s five most trusted brands in a con­sumer sur­vey con­ducted last year.

Sev­eral celebri­ties have en­dorsed Maggi over the years, in­clud­ing Bol­ly­wood su­per­star Amitabh Bachchan.

The scare met with a mix of out­rage and dis­ap­point­ment on Twit­ter, where it was one of In­dia’s top trend­ing top­ics on Fri­day.

“A col­lu­sion of un­scrupu­lous MNCs (multi­na­tional com­pa­nies), ad agen­cies and food reg­u­la­tors leads to junk be­ing sold as emo­tional nec­tar to In­di­ans daily. #NestleIn­dia,” tweeted the best­selling nov­el­ist Chetan Bha­gat.

Oth­ers com­plained that the in­stant noodles were the only thing they knew how to cook.

“RIP (for now) #Maggi #NestleIn­dia hop­ing to be back in 2MINS,” tweeted one fan un­der the han­dle @FivePoin­tRe­view, re­fer­ring to the time it takes to cook the dish.

The Fu­ture Group, In­dia’s big­gest re­tailer, re­moved Maggi packet noodles from its more than 500 stores this week un­til re­sults of tests be­ing car­ried out na­tion­wide are known.

The scare be­gan when food in­spec­tors in Ut­tar Pradesh said they had found high lead lev­els in two dozen Maggi noo­dle packets dur­ing rou­tine testing, along with the flavour enhancer MSG (monosodium glu­ta­mate), which is not listed in the in­gre­di­ents.

The state last week­end filed a crim­i­nal com­plaint against Nestle In­dia over the find­ings, while a sep­a­rate legal pe­ti­tion was filed against Bol­ly­wood stars who have ad­ver­tised the noodles.

Nestle has said it does not use MSG in its Maggi prod­ucts sold in In­dia, but that glu­ta­mate is a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring sub­stance and may be present in some of the in­gre­di­ents.

The com­pany, which mar­kets a huge range of food items from Nescafe in­stant cof­fee to KitKat bars, said Maggi noodles would re­turn to the mar­ket “as soon as the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is clar­i­fied”.

AP

Packs of Maggi noodles stored af­ter be­ing re­moved from the shelfs of a gro­cery store in Gauhati, In­dia, Fri­day, June 5.

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