Nearly a year after it got into trouble in india, Nestlé’s Maggi noodles has passed all safety tests directed by the Supreme Court (SC) and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). All tests conducted on 29 samples of the instant noodles brand failed to find any excess lead or artificial monosodium glutamate (MSG) in it, Nestlé India stated on Monday. Every single sample was found compliant.
CFTRI (the central government’s laboratory) has clarified that glutamic acid can be due to presence of ingredients like tomatoes, cheese, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, etc. It has further stated that there are no analytical methods to distinguish between naturally present glutamic acid and additive MSG,” the company added.
The SC in January ordered laboratory testing of 16 Maggi samples, in addition to 13 collected by government authorities earlier. An NCDRC bench had ordered retest of Maggi collected from nine batches at the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories-accredited CFTRI in Mysuru.
While NCDRC-directed tests were to determine presence and levels of lead and MSG in Maggi, those ordered by the SC were to determine the level of many other parameters like metal contaminants, crop contaminants and other hazardous substances, including lead and MSG. The latest test reports are in line with the food major’s claims that it does not add MSG in Maggi, Nestlé said.
The controversy related to presence of MSG and higher than permissible levels of lead in Maggi hit Nestlé India in May last year. It led to a countrywide ban on the flagship brand, which had contributed to 26 per cent of the previous year’s Rs 9,800 crore sales.
As Maggi remained off shelves between June and October, the company suffered considerable financial loss, posting a net Rs 64 crore negative figure for the September quarter, for the first time in 17 years.
However experts say, the latest development is less likely to have an impact on the brand or Nestlé’s stock. “The storm is long over and Maggi is back in market. It (the reports) is just a ratification of what the company has been claiming all along. I do not see any positive or negative impact on the brand”, Harish Bijoor, a brand consultant said.
According to Abneesh Roy, associate director, institutional equities-research analyst, Edelweiss Securities, investors are not skeptical about the quality of products that Nestlé makes. “Investors are looking forward to expansion of product portfolio, like in the chocolate category. Innovative products and more categories like pet food, packaged water and breakfast cereals by Nestlé in India will excite them”, he said.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the minister of food processing industries, had publicly expressed concern that the whole episode might hurt the government’s business-friendly image.
“We strongly reiterate that Maggi has always been safe for consumption, as demonstrated by tests carried out in independent accredited laboratories,” stated Nestlé. “In addition to the recent CFTRI reports, addressing clarifications sought by the SC, and the tests conducted as per orders of the Bombay High Court, over 3,500 tests have been conducted at internal and external accredited labs. These include several other national food authorities, including the USA, UK, Singapore and Australia, among others.”
The announcement came at 4:45 pm, after trading session closed at the BSE. Nestlé’s stock ended 1.5 per cent lower at Rs 5,872.70.
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