- Authorities found high ash content in Maggi product: reports
- India scandal comes amid parent’s food recalls in U.S.
Nestle India Ltd. said media reports in the South Asian country about the ash content in some products under its Maggi brand are “erroneous and misleading.”
The company, whose instant noodles were the subject of India’s biggest food quality crisis last year, responded to a Press Trust of India report that said authorities in the Uttar Pradesh state found the ash content in Maggi’s Masala variant is 85 percent higher than the permissible limit, citing district chief food safety officer Manoj Kumar.
Nestle said it hasn’t received any notice from the authorities, though the complaints flagged in the media are likely because standards for other products are being applied to instant noodles.
“It is apparent from the media reports that standards for ‘macaroni products’ are being applied for ‘instant noodles with seasoning,’ which is erroneous and misleading,” the company said. “We categorically reiterate that testing of ‘instant noodles’ against norms set for ‘macaroni products’ will reflect in incorrect results and wrong interpretations.”
A safety scare about Maggi occurred in India last year, which originated when a lone food inspector reported exceptionally high lead levels in a noodle packet, and then snowballed into a controversy leading the nation’s food regulator to ban Maggi sales nationwide.
Nestle, which has repeatedly maintained Maggi products are safe, later took the food regulator to court over the decision, and won the challenge. The company has since resumed sales.
Officials at Uttar Pradesh’s Food Safety and Drug Administration and Commissioner Praveen Kumar Singh couldn’t be immediately reached. Assistant commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav declined to comment when reached on his cellphone. Santosh Kumar Srivastava, the top food safety official for the district where the tainted samples were found, also declined to speak.
The term “ash” used in the context of processed foods refers a substance usually made up of metals and minerals left behind after heating ingredients at more than 500 degrees Celsius, according to N. Anandavally, a consultant who’s worked in food safety for more than 30 years. Most of the organic matter vaporizes at that temperature, and so the total ash content is a proxy for the total amount of non-organic material present in the product.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India prescribes the maximum amount of ash that can be present in various kinds of processed foods.