NEW DELHI (TIP): Nestle may have secured a clean chit for Maggi from the Singapore food regulator, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), considered the world’s strictest regulator, had refused import of the noodles earlier this year.
The US FDA’s website shows that in January this year, six import refusal reports were issued to Nestle India by it. The regulator rejected Nestle India’s instant noodles and chowmein, manufactured at the company’s factories in Goa (Bicholim), Uttarakhand (Pantnagar) and Punjab (Moga).
In the report, the US FDA said,”The article appears to be misbranded in that the label or labeling fails to bear the required nutrition information.”
This is significant because even in India regulators have raised questions about Nestle’s labeling and packaging of Maggi, while ordering a countrywide withdrawal and recall of all nine variants of the popular snack. Regulatory tests in India have found Maggi containing added monosodium glutamate (MSG). However, the company does not declare so on the pack. Similarly, Maggi samples were allegedly found containing lead in excess of the prescribed limit.
Interestingly, after the latest recall of Maggi instant noodles in India, the US FDA has also sent samples of the product for testing.
Apart from Nestle’s products, imports of several other India-made packaged food products including bakery items, snacks, noodles and macaroni from leading players like Haldiram, Britannia and Indo Nissin Foods, were also blocked by the US FDA in the first five months of 2015.
In fact, data from the American regulator shows, India leads the list of rejected food products in various categories, with more than half of such items coming out of Indian facilities. Countries like Mexico and China are much bigger exporters to the US.
However, in terms of number of snacks and bakery products rejected, India, the eighth largest supplier of food to the US, is much ahead. For instance, the US FDA rejected a total of 217 bakery products between January and May, of which 116 were from India and 17 from China.
Most of the Indian snacks and bakery products rejected by the American regulator so far this year are from Haldiram. Some of the reasons cited include contamination, pesticide adulteration, decomposed substances, inadequate processing and insanitary conditions etc.
In some of the orders, the regulator said the products can be “rendered injurious to health”. Several phone calls made to Haldiram to seek their response remained unanswered.
Experts say like medicines, food safety regulation is also going to be strengthened in upcoming years. “The Indian food market is evolving and companies need to behave in a more responsible manner,” a former FSSAI official said.