Maharashtra, commercial capital of India, has cracked the whip on multinational Nestle's Maggi brand of noodles and samples collected from around the state have been sent for testing in government laboratories, a minister said Wednesday.
Food & Civil Supplies Minister Girish Bapat said that the samples have been picked up from shops and retailers in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Pune, Nagpur and are being tested in government labs in Mumbai and Pune.
"The samples are being tested mainly for two aspects - the metallic lead content and the amount of ajinomoto salt which is used for the flavoring of the noodles. We expect the reports by Friday. We shall accordingly decide on the future course of action," Bapat told mediapersons here.
Maharashtra Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) officials said that 25 samples, including four from Mumbai and Thane, and 15 from Pune and the rest from other cities are being tested in the FDA lab in Mumbai and a central government lab in Pune.
"If the reports of the Maggi noodles and the accompanying masala in it are positive, then we have the powers to ban the product from sale or distribution in the markets. The FDA can also initiate action against the celebrities endorsing the product in such a case," an official, requesting anonymity, told IANS.
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan said that he had endorse Maggi in an ad two years ago but had not so far received any notice from any government authorities on this.
"When I get the notice, I shall fully cooperate with the concerned authorities," Bachchan said during an event Tuesday night.
Another brand ambassador and former film star Madhuri Dixit-Nene said she was very concerned after recent reports and met with the Nestle team on this.
"Nestle explained that they always place the consumer first and have the highest quality standards...Nestle has reassured me that they adhere to stringent testing for quality and safety and working with the authorities closely," Dixit-Nene has said in a series of tweets in the past couple of days.
Emphasising her own love for the product she has endorses, the retired actress added that like most of India, "I have enjoyed Maggi noodles for years."
Meanwhile, though there are no reports of any malls or food plazas withdrawing Maggi from their shelves, some shops and retailers have reported a sharp drop in demand in the past few days.