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article imageIndia takes action over Maggi noodles case

By Tim Sandle     Aug 12, 2015 in Health
Bombay - The Indian government is to sue Nestlé for $100 million over Maggi noodles. Maggi noodles were a popular snack in India before it was recently banned over food quality issues. The government claims that Nestlé have engaged in "unfair trade practices.”
Maggi is an international food brand which has been operating out of India for decades. The company specializes in seasonings, instant soups and noodles. Maggi have been owned by Nestlé since 1947, although Maggi instant noodles did not arrive in India in 1983. The noodles quickly became very, very popular. According to food writer Sourish Bhattacharyya: “the idea that anything could be cooked in two minutes had an immediate impact on a people that had invented slow food centuries before it became fashionable in fast food cultures.” Over time, Maggi claimed 90 percent of the noodle market in India.
As Digital Journal reported in June 2015, testing in some laboratories in India showed the noodles to contain high levels of lead and thus posed a risk to public health. This related to test results issued by Food Safety Regulators from Uttar Pradesh, India. The laboratory reported that samples of Maggi 2 Minute Noodles contained unexpectedly high levels of monosodium glutamate and up to 17 times the permissible limit of lead.
According to the Faculty for Food Safety and Quality of India the issue also led to a temporary ban on imports of the noodles in many countries around the world. In most cases, the ban has been lifted.
The ban in India was challenged by Nestlé at the Bombay high court. Nestle has argued that its products are safe and the results from the Indian laboratories do not match its own test results. The company states that testing has been carried out in the U.K. and in the U.S., with satisfactory results. However, at the same time, Nestlé has destroyed 400 million tonnes of noodles.
In relation to the independent testing in the U.S., conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a spokesperson for Nestlé told Economic Times: “We have learnt from our official importer in the United States, House of Spices, that the US Food and Drug Administration has tested several shipments of Maggi noodles from India for lead content. Finding no unsafe lead levels, FDA released the noodles for sale in the United States.”
As BBC World reports, the consumers’ affairs department in India have taken a case to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which has semi-judicial powers. The basis of the claim is that Nestle has misled the Indian public. As Time Magazine states, the Indian government is “accusing the Swiss company of misleading customers and endangering their health while also resorting to unfair trade practices.”
The Bombay high court verdict on the case is expected soon, the India Express reports. In the meantime, the disagreement continues and the ban on the distribution of Maggi noodles in India remains in place.
More about maggi noodles, Noodles, Lead, Food safety
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