NEW DELHI (AP) — Nestle India said Friday it had decided to take its popular brand of instant noodles off the shelves in the country after several Indian states banned it for allegedly containing unsafe levels of lead.
The company said in a statement that the trust of its consumers and the safety of products was its first priority, but added "Maggi noodles are completely safe and have been trusted in India for over 30 years."
Several Indian states, including Uttrakhand, New Delhi, Gujarat and Jammu-Kashmir, have either ordered the withdrawal of Maggi noodles from shops or are carrying out further tests on samples before taking action in conjunction with the federal government.
The statement said the Maggi noodles would be back in the Indian market as soon as the current situation is clarified.
Maggi sales have plunged in India since laboratory tests ordered by some state governments showed the noodles contained lead at levels far higher than legally allowed. The tests also detected the chemical flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product's list of ingredients.
Maggi noodles are a hot favorite with school and college students and Nestle's "two-minute" advertising campaign stressing the ease of making the snack have made it a household name in India. The noodles are Nestle's fastest-selling food item in India, clocking about 15 billion rupees ($240 million) in sales annually.