Nestle Maggi noodles have been found to have been contaminated with lead, leading to a huge product recall which will cost the company £32 million as masses of unsold stock is destroyed.
Safety officials in Delhi discovered that the instant snack had potentially dangerous levels of lead in it earlier this month, with 17.2 parts per million being lead. Local law states that limits between just 0.01 and 2.5 parts per million are acceptable. The packaging also failed to state that MSG, a flavour enhancing additive, was present in the ingredients, adding increasing pressure to Nestle's position.
Consumption of excessive levels of lead, as you would expect, can result in serious health problems. Damage to bones, the kidneys and nervous system have all been noted as related to lead consumption, and it is thought to be linked to children developing learning disorders, too.
In India, Maggi has 80 per cent market share of the instant noodles segment, worth roughly £157 million to Nestle in sales each year.
Maggi also has a modest presence in UK supermarkets. Though not as common a household name in the UK as they are in India, Maggi products, including the noodles in question here, can still be found in some UK shops. The Ocado website, for instance, still has the noodles on sale. If you've any of the packets noodles sitting in the back of your cupboards, it's probably best to bin them now, and tuck into a nice healthy Pot Noodle instead.
Nestle claims to have performed test on 125 MILLION packets of Maggi noodles as the food scare escalated, and will be questioning the ban being put in place by food regulators. However, the damage is likely already done: endorsed by celebrities and ranked as one of India's five most-trusted brands, it will take a lot of work for Nestle's PR teams to re-establish the snack as a household favourite. [BBC]