Government bans import and sale of Maggi noodles
The government imposed a ban on import and sale of Indian noodle brand Maggi in the market from today for an undefined period.
Maggi is going to face strong food quality checks, according to spokesperson of Department of Food Technology and Control Purna Chandra Wasti.
Following the controversy in India, Nepal has also banned import and selling Maggi, he said, urging the public avoid eating Maggi following the controversy in India. " The ban will continue until further notice."
The department has collected some random samples from market and send them to laboratory to confirm whether Maggi noodles in Nepal also contain excessive lead, as per the reports in India, Wasti added.
The department has begun testing samples of Nestle's Maggi noodles after Indian media reported that high-level of lead was detected in the popular noodles brand. The department has already collected samples of Maggi noodles produced in Himanchal Pradesh and Uttarakhand states of India," Wasti said, adding that the department will take appropriate decisions after the lab test report comes out. "The report is likely to come within two days."
The department has also urged the public not to consume Maggi. "We have also urged traders to return the product," said the department that has recommended the government to ban sale of Indian noodles citing growing opposition in India and Nepal.
The department also summoned the chief distributor of Maggi and instructed him to stop selling the product. The government has requested International Food Safety Network (IFSN) to provide details about Maggi products, according to the department.
Consumer rights groups have also asked the department to test the quality of the ready-to-eat food as it can pose serious health hazard to the people.
The Maggi saga is likely to have ripple effects in the domestic noodle market as over a dozen domestic brands have to undergo laboratory tests.
Once the testing of Maggi noodles was over, it would conduct further tests on domestic noodles and foreign branded noodles, according to agriculture secretary Uttam Kumar Bhattarai.
Yesterday, the New Delhi government in India had banned sale of Maggi noodles for 15 days. Prior to that, Indian government had banned sale of Maggi noodles at outlets of Kendriya Bhandar – promoted by Central Government Employees Cooperative Society in Indian – after 10 out of 13 samples were found to have contained high-level of lead. The Indian government has also asked Nestle India to recall all Maggi noodles circulated in New Delhi.
Several states of India including Delhi, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Gujarat have already banned the sale of the popular instant noodles.
The noodles brand came under scrutiny last month after the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration in India asked Nestle India to withdraw a batch of Maggi noodles produced in February last year after the brand was found using excessive amount of taste enhancer like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and excessive lead amount without proper labels.
Indian media reported that samples of Maggi noodles contained 17 ppm of lead which is almost seven times higher than the permissible limit.
Maggi is a big seller for Nestle in India, with annual sales of about INR 24 billion ($235 million).
Maggi noodles is available in different department stores, malls and even in retail shops in Nepal too.