Nestlé India to destroy over 27,000 tonnes of noodles

Tests in several provinces revealed the noodle packets contained more than the permissible quantities of lead

Nestlé India is to destroy about 27,000 tonnes of instant noodles, worth some €44.4 million, following a sales ban imposed by India's food safety regulator.

The “two-minute” Maggi noodles, a household favourite across India for decades, were recently declared “unsafe and hazardous” for consumption.

Tests in Indian food laboratories in several provinces revealed that the noodle packets contained more than the permissible quantities of lead.

They also revealed that the packets contained the taste- enhancing chemical Mono Sodium Glutamate, or MSG, which many believe is harmful, especially for children.


Testing laboratories in some Indian provinces provided contrary evidence and stated the noodles were safe, casting doubts on the overall efficacy of the evaluating procedures and subsequent ban.

Nestlé India, a subsidiary of the Switzerland-based food and beverage multinational, insists the noodles are safe and is challenging the ban in a Mumbai court.

The company's global head, Paul Bulcke, has asked to see the results of the laboratory tests and promised to return Maggi to the market shortly.

He claims that tests conducted by Nestlé on India- made Maggi noodles indicate that the presence of lead in each packet was well within safety limits.

An official Nestlé statement earlier this week said it had begun collecting Maggi noodle stocks from shops, factories and distribution centres across India, and destroying them at great cost at specially hired cement plants.

40 days

Nestlé executives said it would take more than 40 days to crush the noodles, mix them with fuel and incinerate them.

First marketed in India in 1983, the instant noodles became an instant hit with students and young working people and could be found even in the remotest areas.

Being a Nestlé product, Maggi was implicitly trusted. The company had operated in India since 1912. Many generations of Indians were nurtured on Nestlé milk power.

Even the advertising campaigns to popularise Maggi became an instant hit.

In them, the “Maggi mom” was not only a caring parent, but one able to effortlessly juggle her work and domestic responsibilities, all because of the noodle snack.

The Maggi adverts were among the first to acknowledge the changing profile of middle-class urban women.

Rahul Bedi

Rahul Bedi

Rahul Bedi is a contributor to The Irish Times based in New Delhi