With more and more states announcing either ban on or testing of Nestle’s Maggi and grocery chains taking the product off the shelves, the controversy surrounding the product is extending much beyond “two minutes” leading to the mounting trouble for the company and the noodles.
Delhi has imposed a 15-day ban on Maggi noodles and some other state governments were awaiting test results. Karnataka has announced that it would test the product. The Indian Army too has advised its soldiers to avoid the stuff if they could. The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is awaiting test results for lead content in Maggi.
The Delhi state has banned Maggi for 15 days. “As per preliminary report, the quantity of lead found in Maggi is more than the permissible limit,” Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. According to Food & Drug Administration guidelines, the maximum acceptable limit of lead is 2.5 parts per million (ppm).
Grocery chains Big Bazaar, Easyday, Nilgiri’s and HyperCity and online seller Big Basket announced that they were pulling the product until there was more clarity. “In the interest of consumer sentiment and concerns, we have taken Maggi noodles off the shelves from all our stores for the time being,” said a spokesperson for Future Group, which has a retail network of more than 500 supermarkets.
Nestle has meanwhile denied that its product is unsafe. On its website, it has said, “we are confident that our Maggi Noodle products in India and elsewhere are absolutely safe for consumption. We do more food testing that any other entity in the world and have many stringent controls to guarantee safety. We have tested around 1,000 batches of the noodles in our own laboratories and also asked an independent lab to test an additional 600 product batches. Almost 12.5 Crore packets were tested in total. The test results confirm that the noodles are safe, with lead levels well within the food safety limits specified by the Indian authorities.”
The problem for Maggi began with the Uttar Pradesh FDA announcing that it found elevated levels of lead and monosodium glutamate in the product and asking the company to recall its one batch of 2 lakh packets. This was followed by some other states testing the product, announcing the testing or banning it. Till now only in two state, Goa and Maharashtra, the product has been found to be safe.
Nestle has claimed on its website that all the tests it conducted so far has showed that the trace elements of lead found were well below the regulatory limit. Regarding the monosodium glutamate, the company said it does not add the flavor enhancer MSG to the nodles sold in India. However, the product contains glutamate derived from hydrolysed groundnut protein, onion powder and wheat flour. Glutamate produces a positive test result in a test for MSG, it added.