Two weeks after authorities in India ordered the recall of Maggi brand instant noodles from shops across the country, Singapore has told importers to temporarily withhold sales of the instant noodles produced in India.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) says it is testing samples of Maggi brand instant noodles manufactured in India and “it has advised affected importers to stop selling them until tests are complete”, reports Channel Newsasia.
The AVA move comes after India banned the sale of the noodles for 15 days after high levels of lead were found in batches tested in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh state.
This followed tests done there by the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) on two dozen packets of instant noodles, manufactured by Nestle in India.
All the packets tested were found to be contaminated.
The noodles had a lead concentration of 17.2 parts per million (ppm), nearly seven times the permissible limit. The FDA officials said the acceptable limit of lead ranges between 0.01 ppm and 2.5 ppm.
They also found high levels of added monosodium glutamate (MSG), a taste enhancer, in the noodles.
According to a Reuters report on 20 May:
"Maggi instant noodles contained dangerous amount of lead and MSG. We had to immediately issue orders against the company," D.G. Srivastava, deputy inspector general of the FDA in Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, told Reuters.
Nestle India, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle SA, said it had strict safety and quality controls in place for all raw materials used to make Maggi noodles.
"We do not add MSG to Maggi Noodles, and glutamate, if present, may come from naturally occurring sources. We are surprised with the content supposedly found in the sample as we monitor the lead content regularly as a part of the regulatory requirements," it said.
However, in a statement on its website on 5 June, Nestle India said:
MAGGI Noodles are completely safe and have been trusted in India for over 30 years.
The trust of our consumers and the safety of our products is our first priority. Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer, to such an extent that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe.
We promise that the trusted MAGGI Noodles will be back in the market as soon as the current situation is clarified.