After all the unnecessary controversy and a ban that lasted nearly four months since June, Nestle’s popular instant-noodles, Maggi, is set to return to shop shelves in November. While Maggi had a strong consumer-base in India, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) alleging that the noodles contained lead and monosodium glutamate beyond permissible limits has done considerable damage to the brand. So, it would be waiting game for Nestle to see if it can recover lost ground—after the row, Nestle India’s net profits for its third quarter (ended September 30) fell by 60% year-on-year.
While multiple lab tests, including ones in the UK and Singapore, found Maggi safe for consumption, FSSAI vehemently stuck to its stand. Even though results varied across labs within India—with the result that the Bombay High Court ordered that samples be retested in three central labs—FSSAI stuck its ground. The Centre, too, handled the matter poorly with the minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution publicly backing the ban even as the minister for food processing pointed out the obvious flaws with FSSAI’s decision. Thus, the Maharashtra’s government decision not to oppose the lifting of the ban by the Bombay High Court—Gujarat, too, has ended the ban—should point at the path FSSAI needs to follow.