The state government on Friday night banned the sale of Maggi noodles with immediate effect. Maharashtra food minister Girish Bapat warned traders of stern action if they were found to be selling the banned product.
“We have decided to ban Maggi for public health and its sale or distribution will not be allowed till further order,” Bapat said.
The minister claimed the decision was taken after three of the 15 samples sent for testing were found to have higher levels of lead than the permissible limit.
While 12 samples were within the permissible levels, three were found not fit for consumption. Bapat said the three samples showed 2.57 parts per million (ppm), 2.59 ppm and 4.60 ppm lead.
The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India has prescribed 2.5 ppm as the permissible limit for lead. Doctors said consumption of higher quantity can lead to toxicity and is harmful to health.
The samples sent for testing were collected from Mumbai, Thane and Sangli districts last month.
Bapat said what had the government worried was not just the higher lead level, but the variation.
Sources said the government will write to the manufacturing company and may review its decision if the new production strictly follows the rules.
Earlier in the day, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had said that nine of the Maggi noodles samples were found safe for human consumption as the lead quantity in the samples were within the prescribed limit.
“The lead content in the nine samples tested so far are within the permissible limit,” said Dr Harshdeep Kamble, commissioner, Maharashtra FDA.
“Our laboratory reports have shown that the lead quantity in the sample ranged from 0.1 to 1.4 parts per million (ppm), which is well within the limit,” said U Vajnari, joint commissioner, food, FDA, adding that the test result of food additive MSG is yet to arrive.