India court lifts Maggi ban but orders further tests

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé Maggi noodles
Nestlé Maggi noodles

Related tags Maggi noodles Monosodium glutamate

The ban on Maggi noodles has been lifted by an Indian court but more testing must be done before it is allowed to return to the market.

The Bombay High Court made the decision today (Thursday) that Nestlé must submit five samples of each of its nine variants to three accredited laboratories for further testing.

If lead is found to be lower than the permitted limits of between 0.01 and 2.5ppm then it will be able to start selling the product again.

Nestlé India challenged the ban imposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in June that the products were unsafe due to high lead levels.

A Nestlé India spokesperson said: Nestlé India respects the decision made…by the Honourable Bombay High Court to revoke the ban order passed by FSSAI and the FDA, Maharashtra on Maggi noodles and will comply with the order to undertake fresh tests.

“Nestlé India remains committed to working with the FSSAI, FDA Maharashtra and other stakeholders.

“It is Nestle India’s endeavour to get Maggi noodles back on the shelves as soon as possible for the benefit of our consumers.”

Nestlé also reported its global financial results today with the issue denting performance.

It said there were strong results in the AOA Zone's developed markets and a gradual improvement in emerging markets, however the underlying improvement was overshadowed by the issue in India.

The withdrawal of Maggi noodles resulted in negative organic growth which will continue into the second half.

Being sued by India

The ruling came a day after India sued Nestlé for $100m for “unfair trade practices​”.

Nestlé India said it was ‘disappointed’ with the ‘unprecedented’ step of filing of a complaint before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

The firm said it has a stringent program to test the ingredients that go to make Maggi noodles.

“In recent months, we had over 2,700 samples of MAGGI Noodles tested by several accredited laboratories both in India and abroad.

“Each one of these tests have shown lead to be far below the permissible limits, as was the case with the five samples tested by the Government Accredited Referral Food Laboratory, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysuru on samples sent by FDA, Goa.

"In addition Maggi noodles made in India have been tested and found to be safe for consumption by the authorities of several countries across the world.”

Global testing

The firm was given the all clear to export Maggi noodles by the Bombay High Court in June and cleared by several foreign food safety agencies – the latest being the US Food and Drug Administration earlier this week​.

Nestlé also clarified Indian media reports around an FSSAI visit to Banthara DC, Uttar Pradesh.

“As part of the recall procedure and standard operating process, Nestlé India has been collecting stocks being returned from the market as well as customers, on a regular basis for over the last two months,” ​it said.

“These are being stored at various godowns before sending to cement factories for high temperature thermal destruction.

“The 20,000kg of noodles being mentioned in the media reports is not meant for sale and was awaiting onward transportation to the incineration centre.”

Read an editorial on the issue from the head of our sister site FoodNavigatorAsia here​.

Nestlé India confirmed it does not add Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in the manufacturing process.

“MSG is one of several forms of glutamic acid found in natural foods such as groundnuts/peanuts, wheat flour, tomatoes and cheese.

“As we use some of these ingredients in Maggi noodles, the product will contain natural glutamic acid. We therefore strongly reiterate that the “No Added MSG” statement on the product was not an attempt to mislead consumers.” ​ 

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