Maggi sales have plunged in India since laboratory tests showed the noodles contained lead at levels far higher than the legal maximum. The tests also detected the chemical flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product’s list of ingredients. India’s food safety regulator banned the brand from sale over these tests that showed the noodles contained excessive levels of lead.
See, what’s the exact problem in maggi noodles
Maggi noodles are a favourite with school and college students and Nestlé’s “two-minute” advertising campaign stressing the ease of making the snack has made it a household name in India. The noodles are Nestlé’s fastest-selling food item in India, selling about 15 billion rupees (£154m) annually.
Nestlé has said India’s decision to ban its Maggi instant noodles over safety concerns has led to goods worth billions of rupees being withdrawn.
The world’s biggest food company had already been pulling the product from sale when the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) imposed the ban following similar moves by governments of some Indian states.
Nestlé, which says the noodles are safe to eat, has said it will keep the product off store shelves despite its court action challenging the ban.
The scare is a huge blow to the company, which has been selling its Maggi products for over three decades in India and has 80% of the country’s instant noodle market.
Maggi noodles grew increasingly popular as more and more Indians moved away from their homes to study or seek work. It emerged as one of India’s five most trusted brands in a consumer survey conducted in 2014.