After Delhi, Gujarat and Kashmir ban Maggi

New Delhi (IANS): Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday joined Delhi in banning Maggi noodles as Nestle India, the manufacturer of the popular snack, continued to face countrywide scrutiny following lab reports that samples of the snack had excess quantity of lead.

On its part, Nestle India said tests done in a laboratory in Kolkota showed that the lead content in Maggi was within the limits prescribed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Gujarat on Thursday banned Maggi noodles for 30 days after samples failed tests.

State Health Minister Nitin Patel told media persons that 27 out of 39 samples of Maggi noodles were found to contain objectionable levels of lead — ranging from 2.8 to 5.0 — instead of the permitted 2.5, among other things.

Patel said that since lead was found even in Sunfeast and Hakka noodles, shops will be ordered to withdraw all unsold stocks of these two brands, besides Maggi, failing which they could be liable for action.

ITC, makers of Sunfeast Yippee noodles, on Thursday however said its brand has passed the lead test and the company does not add MSG as an ingredient.

“We learn from news reports in Gujarat today, that a sample of Sunfeast Yippee! noodles has passed the lead test,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. It said ITC Foods “does not add MSG (monosodium glutamate) as an ingredient to YiPPee”.

The Jammu and Kashmir government also imposed a ban on the sale of Maggi noodles on Thursday and directed Nestle India to remove all stocks from local markets.

Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Minister Choudhary Zulfikar said in Srinagar that there were reports that Maggi noodles contain lead and MSG in excess.

“We have directed all district magistrates to impose complete ban on the sale of Maggi products in the state,” he said.

The minister said the ban will remain in force for a month or till reports of tests on noodles samples – to be conducted by the government – are received, whichever comes earlier.

Facing the heat, Nestle India presented on its website the results of tests of its samples at some food laboratories.

“We regularly monitor all our raw materials for lead, including testing by accredited laboratories. These results have consistently shown lead in Maggi to be within safe limits,” Nestle India said on its website.

It said test reports revealed that less than 0.05 milligrams of lead was present per kg while the maximum permissible level was 2.5.

Nestle India also sought to answer in detail possible queries about Maggi.

“We are confident that our Maggi noodle products in India and elsewhere are absolutely safer for consumption,” it said.

On the presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG), which the product label says “No added MSG”, Nestle stated: “We do not add the flavour enhancer MSG (E621) to Maggi noodles.”

The Delhi government had on Wednesday banned Maggi noodles for 15 days after 10 of 13 samples of Maggi were found to contain more than permissible limists of lead.

On Thursday, the Delhi government sent samples some other noodle brands including Top Ramen and Ching’s Hakka for tests.

The Nepal government also decided to impose a ban on importing and selling of Maggi noodles in its market for an undefined period following the controversy.

In Shimla, union Health Minister J.P. Nadda told reporters that the central government has sought reports from all states on the controversy over the quality of Maggi noodles.

The states that have sent Maggi samples for tests include Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Haryana and Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

In Ahmedabad, union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said he had asked his department as also the FSSAI to look into the facts following the controversy.

He said safety had been ordered on Maggi and any action would be taken after test reports were in.

He said the government had filed a complaint against Nestle India with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

The Central Advisory Committee (CAC) of FSSAI also met in the capital to discuss reports of excessive lead in Maggi.

Stocks of Nestle India were dented on Thursday. Its stocks at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) declined by around 3 percent.

With consumers wary of Maggi noodles, its sales have taken a hit. Walmart India on Thursday announced that Maggi noodles were taken off its shelves.