10/28/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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Nestle noodles back on shelves after ‘political’ ban

Lab tests on 200 million packs of instant noodles confirm product safe for consumption. Withdrawn from the market in June; the company has destroyed 400 million packets, with a loss of about 42.6 million Euros. Experts point out the political motivation of ban, which affected foreign investment.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - From November, Maggi instant noodles will be back on Indian supermarket shelves. Nestle, the Swiss company that produces and sells Maggi in India, will resume production of one of the most loved products nationwide for over 30 years.

A Nestle India spokesperson said: "The laboratory tests have established that the food is safe and contains lead levels well below the limits allowed by law. We have resumed production of noodles in Nanjangud (Karnataka), Moga (Punjab) and Bicholim (Goa)”.

This brings to an end an episode that began in June with an National Authority for Food Safety  order banning the sale of the product in stores, after some Uttar Pradesh health inspectors found in dozens of packs with high levels of lead and flavor enhancers not indicated in the ingredients list.

Nestle was obliged to withdraw the product from over 500 stores "as a precaution", but then the High Court in Mumbai in August lifted the ban as "illegitimate" and called for other tests to ascertain toxicity. Meanwhile Gujarat and Karnataka followed the directions of the court and withdrew the ban, unlike Maharashtra who opposed the move.

The company destroyed by 400 million packs after the first ban, with an economic loss of 4.5 billion Indian rupees [approximately 62.6 million euro - ed]. It also performed 3,500 tests on 200 million packages, both in India and abroad, in compliance with the High Court decision. The three laboratories that conducted the tests - indicated by the same court - have confirmed the safety of the food samples. Even the control agencies of other countries such as the US, UK and Australia have ruled that the instant noodles made in India are safe.

Many experts argue that the ban was actually a political measure to target foreign investment in the country. India only recently opened its retail market to big foreign supermarket chains, like Carrefour and Walmart, when in 2012 controversial economic reforms were approved. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which was in the opposition at the time, led the fight against foreign products.

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