Govt to test all noodle brands, UK puts Maggi under lenses

Tamil Nadu and Gujarat ban several top brands of noodles in the market

GN Bureau | June 5, 2015


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India’s food safety regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has ordered state governments to check all noodle products made in the country. The FSSAI tests on Maggi found high content of lead and mono-sodium glutamate or MSG in it.

Now that several states have imposed ban on Maggi in India, even Britain has started investigated the quality of Maggi sold across UK.

Read More: Mumbai stores keep out Maggi as Delhi puts others brands under scrutiny

UK's Food Standards Agency has said that it has received lab reports from India of Maggi samples and is working with the European Commission to see if packs sold in UK have high levels of lead as found in that in India. The Nepal government also decided to impose a ban on importing and selling of Maggi noodles in its market for an undefined period following the controversy.

Late on Thursday night, Nestlé India decided to take Maggi off the shelves temporarily in the country.

Asserting that the product was "completely safe", the company in a statement said, "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..."

Meanwhile, two states have banned other top brands of instant noodles after samples were found to contain unsafe levels of lead and taste enhancer mono sodium glutamate (MSG).

While the Tamil Nadu government banned Wai Wai Xpress Noodles, Reliance Select Instant Noodles and Smith and Jones Chicken Masala Noodles for 3 months, the Gujarat government banned Leong Hakka noodles brand for 30 days after samples failed laboratory tests.

A release from the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday night said the manufacture, storage and sale of the other three noodle brands along with Maggi were banned after lead above the stipulated limit of 10 lakh per 2.5 parts per million (PPM)was found in samples. The companies were also ordered to recall stocks from retail outlets. "It was found that the four brands had lead over and above the allowed levels," the release said.

The Gujarat government tested one sample each of instant noodles of ITC Sunfeast's YiPPee and SK Foods' Leong Hakka noodles and banned the latter for a month after finding high lead content .

"Sample of Sunfeast passed the lead test, but traces of monosodium glutamate was found in it. We will test more samples of Sunfeast before taking any action on its instant noodle," Gujarat health minister Nitin Patel said.

After Delhi, four more states -- Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand-- banned the sale of Maggi noodles after concerns were raised over presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead beyond permissible levels in the product.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the state government banned the sale for one month till the receipt of reports over the fitness of the fast food for human consumption.

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are awaiting results of tests of samples of the noodles taken from the respective states before taking any action.

Maggi sales have plunged in India since laboratory tests ordered by some state governments showed the noodles contained lead at levels far higher than legally allowed. The tests also detected the chemical flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product's list of ingredients.

Maggi noodles are a hot favorite with school and college students and Nestle's "two-minute" advertising campaign stressing the ease of making the snack have made it a household name in India. The noodles are Nestle's fastest-selling food item in India, clocking about 15 billion rupees in sales annually.

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