Nestle India said on Friday it had decided to take its popular brand of instant noodles temporarily off the shelves in the country after several Indian states banned it for allegedly containing unsafe levels of lead.
Paul Bulcke, the Nestle Global Chief Executive, said the trust of Indian consumers and the safety of products was its first priority, but added Nestle would do everything to make sure Maggi Noodles were back on the shelves “as soon as possible.”
He told reporters in New Delhi that there appeared to be some confusion about the results and methodology used by Indian authorities and the Nestle group and the two sides would sit together in the coming days to sort out the differences.
Several Indian states, including Uttarakhand, New Delhi, Gujarat and Jammu-Kashmir, have either ordered the withdrawal of Maggi noodles from shops or are carrying out further tests on samples before taking action in conjunction with the federal government.
Maggi sales have plunged in India since laboratory tests ordered by some state governments showed the noodles contained lead at levels far higher than legally allowed.
The tests also detected the chemical flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product’s list of ingredients.
On Friday, Bulcke said his company did not add MSG to its Maggi noodles in India and tests have shown the presence of lead in the product within permissible limits.
Some shopkeepers have already taken the product off their shelves as sales have dropped.
The noodles are Nestle’s fastest-selling food item in India, clocking about 15 billion rupees ($240 million) in sales annually.