Maggi lovers in Tamil Nadu may have to wait

The company has made a representation to Food Safety Commissioner but a few clarifications have been sought

November 10, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 25, 2016 12:06 am IST - CHENNAI:

Nestle India re-launched its popular instant noodles brand Maggi and commenced sales on Monday, but the same is yet to available in Tamil Nadu, the State food safety department has said.

According to a senior food safety department official, “the company has made a representation to us but the Commissioner has asked for a few clarifications. Once they reply, it will be taken into consideration.”

However, with news about the re-launch of Maggi spreading, eager customers kept asking if the packets were back on the shelves in Tamil Nadu. A departmental store keeper in Vellore said customers continued to ask if the sale of Maggi noodles had resumed. “Though we saw the advertisement that sale of Maggi noodles had commenced, we have not received any new stock. Customers inquire if the noodles are available and many purchase other brands of noodles,” he said.

Retailers’ compunctions

However, for retailers, it is necessary to keep in view clearances from the food safety officials and co-ordinate stocks with the wholesaler. Representatives of a few supermarkets in Chennai said though they had not received Maggi stock as yet, Nestle had intimated that the ban had been lifted and they expected the arrival of packs anytime.

A manager at one of the leading chain of supermarkets at Kilpauk said the packs might arrive by Wednesday. “But we may not get all the flavours immediately; only the regular ‘masala’ flavour of Maggi may come at first,” he said.

Another staff of a leading supermarket in Anna Nagar said they would start accepting the Maggi products after seeing the reviewed license and certificate of Nestle. “We have received communication from Nestle. But it is going to take time before it reaches our outlet,” he said.

In Tiruchi and Coimbatore, Food Safety department officials had the same story to tell. “We are yet to receive any directive from our higher authorities till now to lift the ban,” a senior department official in Tiruchi said.

Over five tonnes of Maggi noodles were taken back by the distributors from the retail outlets across the district after the ban was imposed, in the district, he added, and since then, a team of 18 Food Safety Officers were nominated for different parts of Tiruchi district to ensure that there was no sale of Maggi noodles. In Coimbatore, officials said that a second round of tests might be done in the State before the packets hit the shelves here.

On June 4, the Tamil Nadu government had banned the manufacture, stocking and sales of Maggi noodles and three other brands — Wai Wai Express Noodles, Reliance Select Instant Noodles and Smith and Jones Chicken Masala Noodles — for a period of three months, on the grounds that the products contained unacceptable levels of lead.

On the other three brands, the official said that the makers had been told to submit their products for re-testing. “Reliance noodles have already been sent for testing and results are awaited. Wai Wai Express has not come forward, while Smith and Jones have said they do not want to be tested as of now and will not market in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

Nestle’s statement

In a statement released on Monday, Nestle House said most States did not have a ban on the sale of Maggi noodles. “For States where specific directions are required, we are engaging with them,” the statement said. It added that the company was committed to collaborate and work proactively with FSSAI and FDA authorities in States and other stakeholders.

(With inputs from R.Rajaram, Serena Josephine, Sunita Sekar, and V.S.Palaniappan)

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