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India Orders Nestlé To Stop Selling Some Noodle Soup Products

Nestlé's Maggi instant noodles gained popularity in India as the snack of the middle class in the 1980s.
Chandan Khanna
AFP/Getty Images
Nestlé's Maggi instant noodles gained popularity in India as the snack of the middle class in the 1980s.

After wrestling with India's regulatory bodies over the safety of some of its products, Nestlé India says it will abide by a ban and pull its noodle soup products from shelves.

"The trust of our consumers and the safety of our products is our first priority," the company said in a statement on Friday. "Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer, to such an extent that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe."

India's Food Safety and Standards Authority said that the soups were "unsafe and hazardous for human consumption" because testing found that the lead content in some Maggi soups samples was about seven times higher than is permissible.

Nestlé argued that Indian authorities had not tested the samples properly.

The Financial Times reports:

"According to the FSSAI, Indian authorities have found the lead levels in the seasoning exceed legal standards, while Nestlé argued the lead levels should be measured as percentage of the product's total content, including the noodles — a perspective authorities have rejected.

"'The prescribed standards have to be applied in respect of each of these two components independently,' the FSSAI order said.

"Even before the national ban, four states on Thursday — Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir — banned sales, following the lead of New Delhi's city government, which stopped sales for 15 days."

The BBC has a bit of background on the Maggi stronghold in India:

"Maggi has an 80% share of India's instant noodle market and has been branded the third staple alongside rice and lentils.

"The instant noodles arrived in India in 1983 and can be found in corner shops across the country.

"Nestle's relationship with India dates back to 1912, when it launched in the country as The Nestle Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (Export)."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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