New Delhi: Paul Bulcke, chairman of the board of directors at Nestle SA on Friday said food safety is “not negotiable" for the company and the Swiss packaged food maker takes “pride in providing safe food products" in whichever country the company operates in.

“I know we had some challenging times not so long ago when our heritage of food safety was called to question but I’m proud to say that we have overcome it," Bulcke said as part of his address to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inaugural session of World Food India 2017 in New Delhi.

This is Bulcke’s first visit to India as Nestle chairman. Bulcke’s last visit to India was in June 2015 as the company’s global chief executive officer as part of an emergency measure to tackle an abrupt crisis after the country’s food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) declared a nationwide ban on Maggi instant noodles, the single largest revenue earner of the Swiss company’s local entity Nestle India Ltd, for alleged safety concerns.

It took the company five months to bring Maggi noodles back to retail shelves after proving that the packaged snack was not unsafe for human consumption.

But Bulcke’s challenge was not just bringing Maggi noodles back to the retail market, but mending fences with FSSAI and the government.

On 6 September 2017, Nestle India Ltd announced that it would set up a food safety institute in partnership with FSSAI that will train officials of FSSAI as well as other companies in food safety.

The Manesar-based Nestle Food Safety Institute was inaugurated by FSSAI chief executive officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal, who termed the partnership a “well-thought strategy". The institute, a replica of the Swiss company’s units in China and Lausanne, Switzerland, will conduct training programmes on food safety management systems, testing methods and regulatory standards in India.

“The food we eat also needs to be safe and for us food safety is not negotiable," Bulcke said, adding that the Nestle Food safety Institute in India has been set up aiming at “building and sharing knowledge and practices through collaborative partnerships to support and strengthen food safety environment in India".

The food system globally, said the Nestle chairman, has “come a long way" but “not delivering as it should". “Agriculture productivity needs to be improved as we will have to feed millions of people in future… With 70% of the global poverty in the rural areas, the investment in building agriculture capacity is crucial. Food security needs to be given top priority. In partnerships we can find solutions and the private sector can play an important role," added Bulcke.