Home / Companies / Reports of ash in Maggi noodles ‘misleading’, says Nestle India

Mumbai: Nestle India Ltd. said media reports in the South Asian country about the ash content in some products under its Maggi brand are “erroneous and misleading."

The company, whose instant noodles were the subject of India’s biggest ever food quality crisis less than a year ago, was responding to reports that say the Uttar Pradesh state found the ash content in Maggi Masala is 85% higher than the permissible limit, the Press Trust of India reported on Friday, citing district chief food safety officer Manoj Kumar. The CNBC TV18 television channel also reported the same claims without saying where it got the information.

Nestle has not received any intimation from the concerned authorities, though the complaints flagged in the media are likely because standards for other products are being applied to instant noodles, it said in an e-mailed statement.

“It is apparent from the media reports that standards for ‘macaroni products’ are being applied for ‘instant noodles with seasoning’ which is erroneous and misleading," the company said. “We categorically re-iterate that testing of ‘instant noodles’ against norms set for ‘macaroni products’ will reflect in incorrect results and wrong interpretations."

Today’s incidents bring back memories of a similar problem last year, which originated when a lone food inspector reported exceptionally high lead levels in a noodle packet, and then snowballed into a controversy leading the nation’s food regulator to ban Maggi sales nationwide.

Nestle, which has maintained its products are safe, later took the food regulator to court over the decision, and won the challenge, with the court allowing the company to resume sales after the tests done at a certified laboratory were found to be acceptable.

Officials at Uttar Pradesh’s Food Safety and Drug Administration and commissioner Praveen Kumar Singh couldn’t be immediately reached. Assistant commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav declined to comment when reached on his cellphone. Santosh Kumar Srivastava, the top food safety official for the district where the tainted samples were found, also declined to speak.

Nestle India shares fell 0.3% at close of Mumbai trading to 5,163.15.

The food safety issues in India come as the parent Nestle SA is in the process of recalling 12 types of products in the US, including the DiGiorno, Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s convenience-meal brand in the US because they may contain small pieces of glass. Bloomberg

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