The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Friday, June 5, 2015, ordered Nestle to halt the manufacturing and sale of Maggi noodles. The food safety regulator called the popular noodles 'unsafe' and 'hazardous' for human consumption after tests by some states found the noodles contained excessive lead.
Nestle, which denies the charges said that the noodles are safe to eat. The company had already announced that it was pulling the product from sale as it seeks to contain growing safety concerns. Nestle global chief executive Paul Bulcke said, "We decided to take off the noodles from the shelves as there was confusion about the safety. The safety of our consumers is paramount. We are working with the authorities to clear up this confusion."
An FSSAI statement said, "We are ordering Nestle India to withdraw and recall all the nine approved variants of its Maggi Instant Noodles from the market and stop further production. The presence of lead beyond permissible levels could make the product unsafe and hazardous, citing risks of damage to the kidneys and the nervous system."
The controversy surrounding Maggi began when food inspectors in Uttar Pradesh said that they had found high lead levels in two dozen Maggi noodle packets during routine testing, along with the flavor enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate), which is not listed in the ingredients. The state last weekend filed a criminal complaint against Nestle India over the findings, while a separate legal petition was filed against Bollywood stars who have endorsed the noodles brand.
Nestle clarified that it does not use MSG in its Maggi products sold in India, but that glutamate is a naturally occurring substance and may be present in some of the ingredients. The FSSAI said, "Nestle had disputed the conclusions on the basis that the noodles and flavoring were tested separately, even though they are consumed together."
However, the company said that Maggi noodles would return to the market as soon as the current situation is clarified.