West Bengal will not ban the sale of Maggi noodles after finding no toxins in samples of the instant snack, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday, bucking a nationwide trend of embargoes on the product amid mounting food safety concerns.
Banerjee’s announcement came on the same day that the country’s food regulator ordered the withdrawal of nine Maggi variants and two more states, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, banned sales after finding dangerously high levels of lead and chemical flavour enhancer, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
"We have done surveys on the quality of Maggi. Nothing objectionable was found in any of them. So there is no question of taking any action now. If necessary further surveys will be done," Banerjee said on the sidelines of a book release function.
Troubles for the popular two-minute snack have deepened over the past three days with seven states banning the sale of Maggi and at least 10 others have sent samples for testing. Late Thursday, Nestle India recalled existing stocks across the country but maintained the snack was safe for consumption.
After the controversy broke a few days ago, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and consumer affairs department sent samples of the popular brand for tests. KMC sent its samples to the central food laboratory and a government-accredited private laboratory.
The reports arrived on Thursday but mayor Sovan Chatterjee remained tight-lipped about the results and said the government will reveal it on Friday.
Mayor-in-Council member (health) Atin Ghosh also announced KMC will collect samples of several packaged foods available in Kolkata markets for testing at the central food lab.
The flurry of bans has hurt Nestle India with plunging sales of its flagship product sending share prices tumbling by around 3%, following a 9% slump on Wednesday.
The brand of noodles is widely consumed across the country and contributes over a quarter to Nestle India’s revenues but sales have slumped since April when samples failed a lab test in Uttar Pradesh.