The 2-minute noodles ‘Maggi’ has come under regulatory scanner after samples collected in some parts of Uttar Pradesh were found containing added monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead in excess of the permissible limit, official sources said.
The Lucknow Food Safety and Drug Administration has initiated inquiry and written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in New Delhi seeking to cancel the licence for Maggi. The state regulator has also asked FSSAI to order sampling of the product from across the country to check quality, officials said.
“We have tested Maggi samples at Kolkata’s referral laboratory. The test results show that there are added monosodium glutamate and excess of lead. We have ordered further sampling,” FSDA Assistant Commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav told TOI.
However, Nestle, which manufactures Maggi, maintains that it does not add monosodium glutamate to the product, whereas presence of excess lead is “surprising” for the company.
“We do not add MSG to MAGGI Noodles and glutamate, if present, may come from naturally occurring sources. Food regulators in India also do not specify any limit for the presence of MSG / Glutamate,” a Nestle spokesperson said. He said, “We are surprised with the lead content supposedly found in the sample. We monitor the lead content regularly as part of regulatory requirements, and tests at our own accredited laboratories as well as those by independent external accredited laboratories have consistently shown the results to be well within the permissible limit.”
According to Yadav, test results showed Maggi containing 17 parts per million lead, whereas the permissible limit is 0.01ppm. Nestle says its records show lead content is negligible and less than 1 % of the fixed limit.
Monosodium glutamate, a kind of amino acid which occurs naturally in many agricultural products, is often also added artificially to packaged food to enhance flavour. Regulators and experts say such additives can be harmful for health, mainly for children. Food safety regulations mandate companies to specify on the packaging if MSG has been added.
When contacted, FSSAI said it will examine the case once it receives a detail report from UP and will immediately order sampling from other states. “Enforcement of the Act lies with state government and they must keep a stringent check. Once we receive communication from the state, we will certainly examine and take immediate cognizance,” a senior FSSAI official said.
Nestle said so far it has not been informed about any cancellation of licence or ban on the product. It also maintains that Maggi noodles “conform to all applicable food laws and regulations”.