In a grim reminder of what happened two years ago, Nestle India’s popular product Maggi Noodles failed to clear a laboratory test in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur district recently. The district administration also imposed a fine of Rs 45 lakh on Nestle, Rs 15 lakh on its three distributors and Rs 11 lakh on its two sellers. The noodles — which are popular among a large section of society — were in trouble in 2015 as well.
So what’s the difference between then and now?
The same as between lead and ash.
In 2015, a Gorakhpur state laboratory and the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata found monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the samples. The Kolkata laboratory also found “very high quantities” of lead — 17.2 parts per million — according to UP authorities. The permitted level of lead in instant noodles is 2.5 ppm.
At present, district authorities collected the samples in November 2016 and sent them for lab test, which had found ash content above the permissible limits of human consumption.
In the earlier case, Nestle India said they do not add MSG to Maggi noodles sold in India. “However, we use hydrolysed groundnut protein, onion powder and wheat flour to make Maggi noodles sold in India, which all contain glutamate. We believe that the authorities’ tests may have detected glutamate, which occurs naturally in many foods,” it added. Maggi had then been banned by FSSAI in June 2015 forcing Nestle India to withdraw the product from the market.
Cut to 2017, Nestle India said though they are yet to receive the order, they hold “this appears to be a case of application of incorrect standards.”
“While we have not received the orders passed by the adjudication officer, we have been informed that the samples are of year 2015 and the issue pertains to ‘ash content’ in Noodles. This appears to be a case of application of incorrect standards, and we will file an appeal urgently once we receive the order,” a Nestle India spokesperson said.
In 2015, Nestle India had represented to relevant authorities via industry associations to set standards specific to instant noodles to avoid confusion among enforcement officers and consumers. “The standards have since been introduced and the product complies with these standards. We regret the confusion it may cause to consumers,” he said adding that the noodles were “100 per cent safe for consumption”.
Following legal battles, the noodles brand was back in the market after eight months — in November last year.