Nestlé India gets go ahead to export Maggi noodles

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Nestlé Quality Assurance Centre, Moga, Nestlé India
Picture: Nestlé Quality Assurance Centre, Moga, Nestlé India

Related tags: Maggi noodles, Monosodium glutamate, Food standards agency, Retailing

Nestlé India has been allowed to export Maggi noodles by the Bombay High Court but the product will remain off shelves in India.

The decision was made today (Tuesday) and the next hearing will be on July 15.

Nestlé India went to the Bombay High Court raising issues of ‘interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2011’.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) told the company to withdraw nine approved variants of the instant noodles after testing found they were “unsafe and hazardous” due to lead level concerns and findings of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

“At the hearing today the Bombay High Court allowed Nestlé India to continue the export of Maggi Noodles. The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on 14 ​July​,” said a Nestlé India statement.
 
“As the matter is sub-judice we cannot make any further comment on the case at this stage. We await the official order from the High Court.”

Nestlé India exports to Canada, UK, Singapore and Kenya and to third parties in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

UK investigation

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said samples of Maggi Noodles have found levels of lead within EU permissible levels, meaning the product is not a concern to consumers.

The total number of samples taken from Nestlé, local authorities and port authorities were around 900.

The agency worked with Nestlé UK and the European Commission to investigate higher than expected levels of lead and undeclared Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in Maggi Noodles.

Nestlé UK told the FSA it only imports masala flavour ‘Maggi 2 Minute Noodles’ from India. Other flavours are not imported by Nestlé UK from India, but from factories in other countries.

Nestlé India has tested 833 product samples of Maggi at independent accredited labs, and 1,857 at its own accredited laboratory.

These tests represent 165 million or 16.5 Crore packets of noodles.

The Singapore Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said earlier this month that the noodles are safe for consumption.

Testing by the National Measurement Institute in Australia also found products manufactured in India and imported are safe.

Recall process revealed

Nestlé India has eight factories in the country, five of which produce Maggi Noodles, and 38 distribution centres where products are stored. From these centres it sells to 1,400 distributors.

Nestle maggi stocks
Nestlé India Maggi stock

It also sells directly to big chains like Walmart, Reliance, ABL and Big Bazar and estimates it is in 3.5 million retail outlets in India.

The firm estimated there were 27,420 tonnes of Maggi noodles in factories / distribution centres / distributors / market on June 5.

It said some of that (in the factory and distribution centers) was inside its control but others (with distributors and in the market) were outside its control.

“Step one was blocking the distribution of stock at our own warehouses and distribution centres. This was done immediately,”​ said Nestlé India.

“Step two was blocking orders by our 1400 distributors so that no more stock went into the market. This was done immediately.

“Step three is more complicated. It involves getting the stock back from our 1400 distributors, and their distributors, and their customers, and from consumers.”​ 

The packs are mixed with fuel and subjected to high temperature thermal destruction in cement kilns. Current capacity is 700 tonnes a day across five facilities, meaning it will take at least 40 days to destroy 27,420 tonnes. 

This amount of product would fill 2,500 trucks but there are multiple journeys involved including from the retail outlet to the distributor and from the distribution centre to the incineration plant.   

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