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Maggi noodles from Nestle 'hazardous' - India regulator

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Media captionMaggi noodles are one of India's most popular foods, as Sanjoy Majumder reports

India's food safety regulator said tests have found Nestle India's Maggi instant noodle products are "unsafe and hazardous".

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India accused Nestle of failing to comply with food safety laws.

Nestle withdrew the Maggi brand from stores, after regulators found higher-than-allowed levels of lead in some packets.

But the company insists the noodles are safe.

Maggi is the market leader in India, where a packet costs 12 rupees (12p).

Nestle's global chief executive promised to return Maggi to store shelves.

Paul Bulcke told reporters in New Delhi: "I am confident that we are going to come back very soon."

Mr Bulcke also asked to see the results of the laboratory tests.

Several states have also been testing the noodles for the chemical monosodium glutamate, widely known as MSG.

In its complaint, India's food safety regulator said that packets of "Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker" were misleadingly labelled with "No added MSG".

'Confusion'

Nestle said in a statement on Friday that Maggi noodles are completely safe.

But "recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer", it said.

The firm said the confusion had developed to such an extent "that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe", but promised the noodles would return to the market as soon as the current problem was dealt with.

Maggi noodles had already been banned for 15 days in India's capital, Delhi, and states including Gujarat. However, other states had deemed them safe.

The BBC's India correspondent, Sanjoy Majumder, reports that Maggi noodles are ubiquitous throughout the country, popular with adults and children.

The noodles have been a market leader for the past 30 years.

Pulling the product from store shelves could present a massive logistical challenge.

Safety concerns about the product continued to spread on Friday, with Singapore's food safety authority saying it had taken samples of Maggi's instant noodles made in India for safety tests.

"[We have] advised affected importers to withhold sale until our tests are complete," a spokesperson from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said in a statement.


Analysis: By Simon Atkinson, BBC News, Mumbai

They say that Maggi noodles take two minutes to cook - and - in India - never more than two minutes to find.

They're in every grocery shop - and whether travelling in the backwaters of Kerala, the deserts of Rajasthan, or the northern wilds of Ladakh, you'll find them on the menu at pretty much every roadside cafe.

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Media captionMaggi noodles are still on the shelves in many places, as Simon Atkinson reports

Maggi have been called "the third staple" alongside rice and lentils - and are one of the country's best known and valuable brands.

So that vast market penetration makes me wonder logistically just how instant this withdrawal is going to be.


Image copyright Twitter

The earlier ban of Maggi noodles in Delhi received prominent coverage in the media and on social media platforms.

The ban sparked humour as well as public health concerns on social media platforms like Twitter.

Several hashtags like #Maggi, #Maggiban, #Maggiinasoup, #MaggiKeSideEffects have trended in the past few days.

Some took to Twitter to give their "humorous take" on the ban.

Memes make light of India Maggi ban

How Maggi became an Indian icon


The instant noodles arrived in India in 1983 and can be found in corner shops across the country.

Nestle's relationship with India dates back to 1912, when it launched in the country as The Nestle Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (Export).

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