Nestle’s Maggi noodles are facing a ban in India after food inspectors found dangerous levels of lead in certain batches of the product. Trouble for Maggi started in May 2015 when the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh said high lead content was found during routine tests on two dozen packets of instant noodles, manufactured by Nestle in India.
Two FDA officials said all the packets of instant noodles tested in the state-run laboratory were contaminated. They found a lead concentration of 17.2 parts per million (ppm), nearly seven times the permissible limit. The FDA officials said the acceptable limit of lead ranges between 0.01 ppm and 2.5 ppm.
OPINION: Two-minute bans
After this news broke, states in other parts of the country also began testing batches of Maggi and Delhi had now declared a 15-day ban on Maggi noodles.
But Maggi and Nestle are not the first food products in India to have come under the scanner over health and safety concerns. We take a look at other food items that raised a health scare in India.
1. Cadbury worms controversy
In 2003, Cadbury chocolates was flagged down by Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) following complaints that some samples of the confectionery were infested with worms. The incident was brought to FDA’s notice after aggrieved consumers from suburban Andheri in north-west Mumbai lodged a complaint regarding the presence of worms from a packet bought in the locality.
Cadbury had then issued a press release saying, “The company has since checked the factory samples of this batch and has found them to be of good quality and free of infestation. The company, therefore, reiterates that its products leaving the factory is of good quality”.
2. Coke-Pepsi pesticides controversy
The Coke-Pepsi pesticide row started in 2006 when allegations were made by the New Delhi Center for Science and Environment (CSE) that pesticide residues were found in Coca-Cola and PepsiCo brands. The pesticide content was found to be 24 times higher than safety standards on aerated drinks developed by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
Coca Cola also issued a statement clarifying their products were safe. “Our products are safe and we measure that against the most stringent standards, the European ones,” says Coca-Cola Asia spokesman Kenth Kaerhoeg.
3. Indian milk contamination
In 2012, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India found that more than two-thirds of Indian milk is adulterated with items like salt, detergent etc.
4. 1998 mustard oil contamination
Adulterated mustard oil poisoning resulted in the deaths of more than 60 in Delhi and over 3000 people fell ill. It was found that white oil, a petroleum product, was mixed with edible mustard oil.
5. And finally, Nestle is not only facing trouble in India with Maggi noodles, but also over its milk powder.
Live larvae were found in Nestle’s NAN Pro 3 milk powder in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The Drug Administration Department (food safety wing), tested the NAN PRO3 milk powder, bought by a cab driver and the initial report by one of its food analysts found live larvae in the sample.