The FSA said it was working with Nestlé UK and the European Commission to investigate a report of higher than expected levels of lead and undeclared monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the noodes. “The batch of noodles originally tested by the authorities in India, which was found to contain lead, was not sold in the UK,” said the agency.
But as a precaution, all Maggi Noodles in the UK will be tested for lead levels, it added. Nestlé UK told the FSA it imports only masala flavour ‘Maggi 2 Minute Noodles’ from India. Other flavour Maggi Noodles are imported into the UK from Nestlé factories outside India.
A Nestlé UK and Ireland spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk that Maggi Noodles were “completely safe” and have been trusted in India for over 30 years.
‘Environment of confusion’
Consumer trust and product safety was the manufacturer’s first priority, said the spokeswoman. “Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product in India have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer there, to such an extent that Nestlé India has decided to withdraw the product off the shelves in India, despite the product being safe.”
The spokeswoman confirmed the batch of noodles originally tested by the authorities in India was not sold in the UK or Ireland while other flavour Maggi noodles were imported from factories outside India.
Nestlé said it was working closely with the FSA and local authorities.
“Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product in India have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer there, to such an extent that Nestlé India has decided to withdraw the product off the shelves in India, despite the product being safe.”
Meanwhile, Nestlé boss Paul Bulcke flew to India last week to reassure consumers about the safety of the instant noodle brand. Bulcke said the noodles were being withdrawn, pending investigations, but he was confident they would be back on the shelves very soon.
Recalling the products throughout India is thought to provide a logistical nightmare.
Maggi is a market leading brand in India, where a packet of the instant noodles costs about 12p (12 rupees).
‘Failed to comply with food safety laws’
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said Nestlé had failed to comply with food safety laws, after its investigators found higher than permitted lead levels in some packets.
A number of Indian states were also testing the noodles for the presence of MSG.
Before Bulcke visited India, Maggi noodles had already been banned for two weeks in India’s capital, Delhi, and Gujarat state. Other states had ruled the noodles to be safe.
Singapore’s food safety authority is also testing Maggi’s instant noodles made in India for lead levels.
Meanwhile, the latest advice on avoiding costly food product recalls will be available at the Food Manufacture Group’s one-day food safety conference on Tuesday September 29.
The conference – Safer food and drink – from the harvest to the home – will take place at The Lowry, Manchester.
Click here to benefit from the early bird discounted price to the conference to be chaired by Professor Colin Dennis, president elect of the US Institute of Food Technologists, former director general of Campden BRI and past president of the UK Institute of Food Science & Technology.