Nestlé Answers Concerns about Maggi Noodles, India’s Favourite Brand

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – India’s favourite brand of noodles, Maggi, is undergoing a food safety scare. Authorities in Delhi, the Indian capital, banned the sale of Maggi noodles for 15 days after high levels of lead were found in batches tested in the city and the state of Uttar Pradesh. Now, the government has ordered countrywide tests of samples.

Nestlé India has conducted internal and external tests of 125 million Maggi packets that showed lead levels are well within the limits specified by food regulations and has stated that Maggi noodles are completely safe to eat. In a recent statement the company says, “Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer, to such an extent that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe. The trust of our consumers and the safety of our products is our first priority.”

Nestlé India, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle SA, maintains it has strict safety and quality controls in place. The company has also said that it does not "add MSG to Maggi Noodles, and glutamate, if present, may come from naturally occurring sources". The brand is surprised at the reported lead content supposedly found in the compromised samples as it closely monitors lead content as a part of regulatory requirements.

Maggi has an 80 per cent share of India's instant noodle market. It has been called the third “staple,” alongside rice and lentils. The instant noodles arrived in India in 1983 and can be found in corner shops across the country. (Nestlé's relationship with India dates back to 1912, when it launched in the country as The Nestlé Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company [Export]). Maggi is one of the country's best-known and valuable brands. Hugely popular with school and college students, Nestlé's "two-minute" advertising campaign for Maggi, stressing the ease of cooking instant noodles, has made it a household name in India. Its promotional campaign was among the first to recognise the changing profile of middle-class women in metropolitan India. Some of India's biggest Bollywood stars, from Amitabh Bachchan to Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta, have all appeared in Maggi advertisements.

This alert is a reminder of Indian consumers’ growing affluence at a time when social media can create a food safety concern in one of the world’s largest populated countries within hours. The temporary ban of Maggi noodles has received prominent coverage in the national media and on social media platforms; Twitter hashtags such as #Maggi, #Maggiban, #Maggiinsoup, #MaggiKeSideEffects have trended in the past few days. The event also shows the importance for companies to respond quickly and transparently to consumer concerns about product quality, as Nestlé is doing.

Photo Credit: Nestlé India