Five of the 20 samples of instant snack Maggi Noodles tested by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contained “higher than permissible” limits of lead.
All the samples also tested positive for flavour-enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG). FDA officials said Nestle India Ltd had violated the law as its Maggi packets contained the misleading label that says ‘No added MSG’.
“The lead content in the five samples were between 2.55 and 4.66 parts per million (ppm), This is above the permissible limits,” said U Vajnari, the joint commissioner (food), FDA.
By law, the lead content in such food items should not exceed 2.5 ppm.
The five samples that contained high amounts of lead were collected from Pune (3) and Kolhapur (2). Sources said the samples collected from other districts had lead content within the permissible limits.
“All the samples that had high amounts of lead were manufactured in Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand,” a senior FDA official said. This is significant, as experts said the site of production and raw materials used determine “lead presence” in a product.
While FDA officials did not reveal the method of testing, they insisted “a validated and analytical method” was used to check for MSG and lead. All the samples were tested in state laboratories at Mumbai and Pune.
In wake of the findings of the state FDA and under orders of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the stocking, distribution and sale of Maggi Noodles has been banned across the state.
The FSSAI had already ordered the withdrawal and recall of Maggi noodles and stopped further production of all nine approved variants of the snack, on June 5.
Meanwhile, FDA officials said other ready-to-cook products such as pasta and macaroni will also be tested to check for violations.