Though Nestle made a presentation to India’s Health Ministry on June 4th defending its star product- the Maggi instant noodles- saying that the samples detected with excess lead were past the expiry date, the food giant has decided to withdraw the product from sales in India. The company said the nation-wide uproar over the product has “created an environment of confusion” for consumers. Since consumers’ trust was a key priority, the company had taken a decision to withdraw the product from the market.
A Nestle spokesperson 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, despite the product being safe”.
So far the following states-Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam – have banned Maggi noodles after several tests revealed that the packets contained excess quantity of lead. Several other states have collected fresh samples or awaited test results to confirm the ‘unsafe’ level of the product.
Tamil Nadu has taken the most stringent action with a three-month ban on other noodles brands too. Some of these brands included Wai Wai Xpress Noodles, Reliance Select Instant Noodles and Smith and Jones Chicken Masala Noodles.
Nestle has initiated an independent analysis of random samples of Maggi noodles from 600 different batches at the private laboratory – Edward Food Research and Analysis Centre (EFRAC) in Kolkata. Earlier, it had said that it conducted test of 125 million packets from almost 1000 batches at its own laboratory.
The recent scare originated when food inspectors in Uttar Pradesh found high quantities of lead during routine tests on two dozen packets of instant noodles.
The Maggi controversy is India’s biggest food and beverages scare since 2006, when a New Delhi based environmental group raised concerns over availability of pesticides in Coca Cola Co and PepsiCo drinks.
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