Indian food inspectors have ordered Nestle India to recall a batch of Maggi noodles from shops in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, saying the product contains high levels of lead.
The state's Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) said excess levels of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) were also found in tests on two dozen packets. Maggi, the two-minute instant noodles, are hugely popular in India.
Nestle India has denied that their noodles are unsafe or unhealthy. The company, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle SA, said it had strict safety and quality controls in place.
"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.
But FDA officials in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, said all the packets they tested were contaminated. "Maggi instant noodles contained dangerous amounts of lead and MSG. We had to immediately issue orders against the company," news agency Reuters quoted DG Srivastava, deputy inspector general of the FDA in Lucknow, as saying.
They said they found lead nearly seven times the permissible limit. MSG is commonly used as a flavour enhancer for Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and meat but experts say too much of it can cause headaches, chest pain and nausea. Consumed over a long period of time, it can damage the nervous system.