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Nestle India takes Maggi off shelves, says will be back in the market soon

June: Maggi noodles will be taken off shelves until "the current situation is clarified", Nestle India said, capping a day on which state after state banned the snack for periods ranging from one to three months.

Nestle India said in a statement: "Maggi Noodles are completely safe and have been trusted in India for over 30 years. The trust of our consumers and the safety of our products is our first priority.

"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 company added: "We promise that the trusted Maggi Noodles will be back in the market as soon as the current situation is clarified."
Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Assam on Thursday banned the sale of Maggi noodles. Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu governments imposed a three-month ban while Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir opted for one month. The Assam government has banned the chicken variant for 30 days. Delhi had on Wednesday banned the sale for 15 days.

In Uttar Pradesh, the state that first blew the whistle, Maggi found a breather.

Tests on a small set of fresh samples of Maggi noodles by Uttar Pradesh food safety regulators have found lead levels within the permissible limits and would not justify a ban on the product, a senior official said.
The test results from three samples picked up last month from different retail outlets in Lucknow show lead values within permissible limits, Hemant Rao, the principal secretary with the UP FSDA, told The Telegraph.

"The values seen in this fresh sample would not support a ban," Rao said, but clarified that the regulator is still awaiting results from over 200 samples picked up from across the state under directives from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The FSSAI had last month ordered food regulators in all states to test samples of Maggi noodles after the UP FSDA had in April this year alerted the central regulator that it had detected values of lead greater than permissible limits in samples of noodles manufactured in 2014.

The Delhi government earlier this week said its food regulators had also detected lead in more recent samples of the noodles, while samples from Goa have not shown any harmful ingredient.

Food regulators and toxicology experts say the results of the fresh samples from Uttar Pradesh and Goa need not be surprising because results may vary from batch to batch.

"Assuming every batch uses different ingredients, whether cereals or water or whatever else that goes into it, the readings may change from batch to batch," said Girdhar Gyani, an engineer who was earlier head of the Quality Council of India, an agency that helps testing laboratories earn accreditation certificates.

"There's nothing special about this episode, our inspectors routinely sample hundreds of samples of different food items," Rao said.

"At times, some samples are found to be contaminated with different substances, at times with fungus."

Nestle India has also independently released through its website the results of its own tests on samples of Maggi noodles that show that lead levels are within permissible limits. The company said it has submitted samples from almost 600 product batches to an external laboratory.

"These samples represent around 125 million packets," the company said, releasing three copies of test reports conducted by the Bengal-based Edward Food Research and Analysis Centre (EFRAC), an accredited food testing laboratory. The results from the company's samples show that lead levels are well below the regulatory limit of 2.5 parts per million.

Balwinder Bajwa, the director of EFRAC located in Barasat, said it had tested 800 different batches of Maggi noodles in the past one month and some as late as last week, and found nothing amiss.

"We followed the best practice required to test traces of heavy metals like lead. EFRAC has the most advanced equipment, too. Unless these processes and equipment are used, there can be chance of lead contamination during the test itself, changing the outcome," he said.

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