Nestle SA, the world's largest packaged food company, has resumed manufacturing of its instant noodles Maggi at three of its India facilities and will hit the markets after getting clearances from food testing laboratories. The plan is to resume Maggi sales in November, a spokesman for the Swiss group said on Monday.
The company, which was forced to withdraw Maggi from market and stop production in June following tests by certain labs allegedly finding lead and MSG beyond permissible limits, will send first samples of the fresh batches to three accredited labs for tests. This is in compliance with the order of Bombay High Court.
"We have resumed manufacturing of Maggi Noodles at three of our plants, at Nanjangud (Karnataka), Moga (Punjab) and Bicholim (Goa)," said the spokesperson.
Following a nationwide ban on Maggi noodles in May by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the company's withdrawal of the product, Nestle has been grappling with a public relations crisis in India, a fast-growing consumer goods market. The controversy has cost it about 66 million Swiss francs ($67 million).
"In compliance with the orders of the High Court of Bombay, fresh samples from these newly manufactured batches will be sent for testing to the three accredited laboratories designated by the High Court," the spokesperson further said on Monday.
The company would start selling in the open market only after the fresh samples are cleared.
"November is envisaged as the date (for commencement of sales)," a Reuters report quoted a spokesman as saying. Nestle officials had declined earlier this month to speculate when sales might resume.
Besides, Nestle India is also engaging state authorities and stakeholders at its production locations to commence manufacturing at the earliest, he added. On October 16, Nestle had said that all samples of Maggi (old batches) have cleared testing by three laboratories as mandated by the High Court.
"We have received test results from all three laboratories mandated by the Bombay High Court to test Maggi Noodles samples. All the 90 samples, covering six variants, tested by these laboratories are clear with lead much below the permissible limits," Nestle India had said in a statement.
In June, the FSSAI had banned Maggi noodle product saying it was "unsafe and hazardous" for consumption after finding lead levels beyond permissible limits. The company had withdrawn the instant noodle brand from the market.
Nestle India, which has destroyed over 30,000 tonnes of the instant noodles since June when it was banned because of alleged excessive lead content, had stated that it would continue with the existing formula of the product and would not change the ingredients.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry had also filed a class action suit against Nestle India seeking about Rs 640 crore in damages for alleged unfair trade practices, false labeling and misleading advertisements.
It was for the first time that the ministry dragged a company to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) using a provision in the nearly three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act.
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Updated Date: Oct 27, 2015 14:26:29 IST