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Friday, June 12, 2015

FSSAI Asked Nestle to Withdraw and Recall Maggi Instant Noodles

Verdict :


Possible time of origin : June 05, 2015

Circulation platforms : Web, News and Social media

Circulation geography : Global

Original Message Version Under Analysis:
In the meantime, the Commissioners of Food Safety of various states, viz. the U.P., GNCT of Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, J&K, Assam and a few others are reported to have passed orders prohibiting the said products for varying periods within their respective jurisdictions.
Keeping the aforesaid in view, without prejudice to the rights of the respective Commissioners of Food Safety and the Food Safety establishments of various States and Union Territories and the consumers to file prosecutions against the Company for various violations, and in exercise of powers vested in the Food Authority under Section 16(1) of the FSS Act, read with the general principles enshrined under clauses (a), (b), (c) (f), and (g) of Sub‐section (1) of Section 18, further read with the provisions contained in Sections 26 and 28 and the powers vested in me under Section 10(5) read with Section 29 of the FSS Act, 2006, the Company is hereby directed to:
(i) Withdraw and recall all the 09 approved variants of its Maggi Instant Noodles from the market having been found unsafe and hazardous for human consumption, and stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale of the said product with immediate effect; 
(ii) As already agreed by the Company during the hearing in respect of the rectification of label and removal of “No added MSG”, the Company is directed to comply with the related labelling regulations in this behalf forthwith; 
(iii) Withdraw and recall the food product, “Maggie Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” for which risk/ safety assessment has not been undertaken and Product Approval has not been granted.
(iv) In case any other food product falling under Section 22 of the Act is being manufactured and marketed by the Company, for which risk assessment has not been undertaken by way of grant of Product Approval/ NoC by the FSSAI, the same be withdrawn from the market with immediate effect and the FSSAI be informed about such products within 24 hours of the receipt of this communication, and 
(v) Take appropriate action to re-ascertain the safety of its products in compliance of the obligations cast upon the Company in terms of provisions contained in Section 26 of the Act under intimation to the FSSAI.

Analysis by Merofact Awareness Team:

There is a social hysteria going on over the issue of alleged excessive lead and MSG content in Maggi instant noodles. See our earlier post on the issue titled "Doubts over MSG and Lead Content in Maggi Instant Noodles".
Finally FSSAI took control over the fuss and issued an order for Nestle India on 5th June, 2015. FSSAI convicted Nestle India on 3 counts; 
i. Presence of Lead detected in the product in  excess of the maximum permissible levels of 2.5 ppm 
ii. Misleading labelling information on the package reading “No added MSG” 
iii. Release of a non-standardised food product in the market, viz. “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” without risk assessment and grant of product approval. According to FSSAI "The sample taken by the establishment of the Commissioner of Food Safety, UP and tested by the CFL, Kolkata found presence of lead at 17.2 ppm. The test results received from the GNCT, Delhi in respect of 13 samples drawn from different batches indicate the presence of Lead in excess of the maximum permissible level of 2.5 ppm in case of 10 out of the 13 samples tested."Similarly, State of Gujarat has already issued a recall order, based on test result of 29 samples where Lead in excess of the prescribed limits have been found in 15 samples.Also the state of Tamil Nadu also confirm the presence of Lead in excess of the permissible limits, including in the Noodles of some other manufacturing companies. These reports cumulatively provided ample evidence for FSSAI to conclude that the food products in question being unsafe and hazardous for human consumption. It has been noted with concern by FSSAI that the label of the Maggi product specifically mentions thereon “No Added MSG” whereas the product is found to be containing Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG)FDA (USA) addresses the MSG labelling issue on their website as follows "FDA requires that foods containing added MSG list it in the ingredient panel on the packaging as monosodium glutamate. However, MSG occurs naturally in ingredients such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, as well as in tomatoes and cheeses. While FDA requires that these products be listed on the ingredient panel, the agency does not require the label to also specify that they naturally contain MSG. However, foods with any ingredient that naturally contains MSG cannot claim “No MSG” or “No added MSG” on their packaging. MSG also cannot be listed as “spices and flavoring.”"FSSAI directed Nestle India to 
i. Withdraw and recall all the 09 approved variants of its Maggi Instant Noodles from the market having been found unsafe and hazardous for human consumption, and stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale of the said product with immediate effect; 
ii. As already agreed by the Company during the hearing in respect of the rectification of label and removal of “No added MSG”, the Company is directed to comply with the related labelling regulations in this behalf forthwith; 
iii. Withdraw and recall the food product, “Maggie Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” for which risk/safety assessment has not been undertaken and Product Approval has not been granted. 

In the meantine (June 05,2015) IBNLive quoted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee saying that no "objectionable material" was found in Maggi in the state after conducting 5 laboratory tests.

Maggi products made in manufacturing units on Indian soil are known to be imported by retailers in few other countries including Singapore. Being aware of the doubts over Maggi products Singapore authorities had asked retailers to stop selling Maggi products till they test the required samples for possible hazards. On June 08, 2015 the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore ordered the resumption of the sell of India-made Maggi. Results from AVA's laboratory tests, which cover "a wide range of hazards associated with food", showed that the India-made Maggi instant noodles meet local food safety standards. To note, Singapore is among the places with most stringent rules on public hygiene. When Indiatimes spoke to Nestle representative, they came to know that the Maggi noodles exported to Singapore is identical to the product sold in India and even manufactured in the same plant.

Updated July 3, 2015

UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) also got concerned about the Maggi controversy in India as UK imports large amount of India made Maggi Instant Noodles with Tastemaker. FSA tested around 900 samples collected either directly from Nestlé or via local authorities and port authorities. On July 01, 2015, they confirmed saying that their test results show that the all Maggi Instant Noodles samples have "levels of lead in the product is well within EU permissible levels and would not be a concern to consumers."

On July 2, 2015 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) gave a clean chit to Nestlé Maggi brand products including Instant Noodles in relation consumer health concerns. In an open advisory to consumers CFIA said "The CFIA takes food safety concerns very seriously. We are continuing to monitor the situation in India and are working with our international regulatory partners. The CFIA will advise the Canadian public should any food safety risk be identified." They summarized their investigation results in single confirmatory line; "The CFIA's food safety investigation did not find any health risk associated with the consumption of Maggi brand noodle products sold in Canada."

To note, in between on June 30, 2015 Times of India reported that the Bombay high court allowed the Nestle to export the Maggi Instant Noodles prodoced in India.

So, the question arises is UP FSDA and even FSSAI, India at all reliable (though we know that they are in a controlling position to determine in India what we can buy and what not)? 

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