NEW DELHI— As various food safety agencies finding Maggi noodles unsafe and states banning it, Nestle India has taken the product off the shelves temporarily, the company said in an early morning press release today.
Prior to this, Nestlé SA said on Friday it was pulling its popular instant noodles from stores in India amid allegations they contain dangerously high levels of lead.
However, the company seems to still be in denial mode as it insisted that the product is safe giving away the details of its own tests.
"MAGGI Noodles are completely safe and have been trusted in India for over 30 years," the press release said, adding the trust of the consumers and the safety of its products are its first priority.
"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. We promise that the trusted MAGGI Noodles will be back in the market as soon as the current situation is clarified," it said.
Here are the tweets from Maggi:
Maggi, one of the most popular noodles brand in India, has been facing trouble in the country after after various food safety agencies found excessive lead content in the product.
Six states have banned Maggi
Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir and Tamil Nadu governments have banned the sale of the product, while 13 states are still conducting tests. Only Maharashtra and Goa have found the product safe. These series of bans come after a batch in a small town in Uttar Pradesh was allegedly found to contain higher-than-permissible levels of lead.
However, the company has contested all the allegations in a detailed FAQ on its website. The new explanations come in the background of the criticism that the company is not doing much to deal with the crisis.
"We are confident that our MAGGI Noodle products in India and elsewhere are absolutely safe for consumption," it has said on the site.
"We do more food testing that any other entity in the world and have many stringent controls to guarantee safety: starting from the raw materials we use, throughout processing to packaging," it said.
Nestle claims that It has tested around 1,000 batches of Maggi Noodles in its own laboratories and also asked an independent lab to test an additional 600 product batches. As many as 125 million or 12.5 Crore packets were tested in total, it said.
"The test results confirm that MAGGI Noodles are safe, with lead levels well within the food safety limits specified by the Indian authorities," it said.
Nestle India's decision to withdraw Maggi from all stores in India comes after several questions were raised about whether the company would be forced to close down its operations.
Nestlé SA said Friday it was pulling its popular instant noodles from stores in India amid allegations they contain dangerously high levels of lead.
Not just Maggi, other noodles may be banned too
On Thursday, Gujarat 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 Sikkim government has also issued an advisory asking people to refrain from consuming Maggi. Samples of the product and other instant noodle brands like Wai Wai, Mama and Mimi have been sent to regional laboratory in Guwahati for analysis. The report is expected next week.
India's food safety regulator has ordered state governments to check all noodle products
Yudhvir Singh Malik, chief executive of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), said, "I have told states to not confine only to Maggi, but extend to other manufacturers of noodles."
Central govt seeks reports from all states
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.
Maggi sales have plunged in India, Nestle loses Rs 10,000 crore in market cap in last 8 days
Since May 28, Nestle shares are down nearly 15 percent from Rs 7,038.65 to Rs 6,010.80. The selloff has wiped out nearly Rs 10,000 crore from Nestle's market capitalization.
On Thursday, Nestle shares dropped below Rs 6,000 for the first time since December 2014.
Maggi is a big revenue generator for Nestle India, and contributes around 22-25 percent to Nestle's topline and 30 percent to the company's profitability, according to brokerage Kotak Institutional Equities.
"We believe this event should make investors question the 'quality premium' attached to the company... A slip-up on safety aspects (if true) and poor PR management of the event raise valid questions on the premium," Kotak said.
The temporary bans in select sales and serious backlash against Maggi on social media has certainly dented the iconic brand’s public perception/trust. Reports also indicate a tangible impact on sales, with one report suggesting that Maggi sales in some pockets have gone down by as much as 60% in the past two weeks.
An Economic Times article had reported earlier that Nestle India was forced to cut production of Maggi noodles by a third as consumers shunned the product and unsold stocks piled up with distributors and retailers amid health concerns and bans in different parts of the country.
Friday, 05 June 2015
Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015
Written by Firstpost