The verdict is out and Maggi instant noodles have been found safe in all samples tested by all three laboratories that had been mandated to test the samples by the Bombay High Court. On 13 August, the Bombay High Court had set aside the ban imposed by FSSAI on Maggi instant noodles. The high court had also mandated that Nestlé get the noodle samples retested in three laboratories certified by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories. In compliance with the Bombay High Court orders Nestle India had provided the laboratories 90 samples with six different variants and all the samples have been pronounced to have levels of lead much below the permissible limits. The instant noodles had been banned for lead content which was above the permissible limit and because it had traces of monosodium glutamate which was contrary to FSSAI regulations.
While the announcement that the test samples are safe is being perceived as a positive step towards re-launching Maggi, Nestle India still have to cross a few testing hurdles. Nestle can commence with the manufacture of the noodles, however, the fresh batches of Maggi noodles will also be subjected to testing before they can be given the green signal. So the wait for Maggi noodles to appear on the market shelves is still to continue and that is why the company has not declared any time line for the re-launch. However, the share markets showed a positive mood on getting this news and Nestlé India shares gained by a little over 6 per cent.
Nestle India had always maintained that their instant noodles were safe. After the June 5 ban imposed by the FSSAI Nestle had conducted 3,500 tests which represented over 200 million packs in both national as well as international accredited laboratories. All the tests were clear and even countries like US, the UK, Singapore and Australia had found Maggi noodles manufactured in India safe for consumption. However, Maggi had to still undergo the litmus test on its reputation as a safe food manufacturer in India.
In the meantime Nestlé India, had, for the first time in 15 years, reported a loss of Rs.64.4 crore in the quarter that ended on 30 June. Out of this Rs.451.6 crore has been attributed to the recall and destruction of Maggi noodles from the Indian market. Market researchers also point to the fact that Nestlé India’s domestic sales growth for the September quarter is likely to dip by about 19 per cent year-on-year.
Though Nestle India hopes to bring back Maggi noodles by the end of this year it might take longer. Analysts feel that Nestle has to be first granted permission to re-launch Maggi which includes taking permission from FSSAI. The company meanwhile has declared that they will continue to collaborate with FSSAI, the apex food regulator and other stakeholders.