The 2-minute noodles Maggi has come under regulatory scanner in India after samples collected in some parts of Uttar Pradesh were found to contain added monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead in excess of the permissible limit.
The Lucknow Food Safety and Drug Administration has initiated an inquiry and written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in New Delhi, seeking to cancel the licence for Maggi, reported several Indian news outlets.
The state regulator has also asked FSSAI to order sampling of the product from across the country to check its quality.
FSDA Assistant Commissioner Vijay Bahadur Yadav told the Indian media that they have tested Maggi samples at Kolkata's referral laboratory.
“The test results show there is added monosodium glutamate and an excess of lead. We have ordered further samplings."
However, Nestle, which manufactures Maggi, maintains that it does not add monosodium glutamate to the product, whereas presence of excess lead is "surprising" for the company.
"We do not add MSG to MAGGI Noodles, and glutamate, if present, may come from naturally occurring sources. Food regulators in India also do not specify any limit for the presence of MSG / Glutamate," a Nestle spokesperson said.
According to Yadav, test results showed Maggi containing 17 parts per million lead, whereas the permissible limit is 0.01ppm. Nestle says its records show the lead content is negligible and less than 1% of the fixed limit.
Monosodium glutamate, a kind of amino acid which occurs naturally in many agricultural products, is often also added artificially to packaged foods to enhance flavour. Regulators and experts say such additives can be harmful to health, mainly for children.
Food safety regulations mandate companies to specify on the packaging if MSG has been added.
When contacted, FSSAI said it will examine the case once it receives a detailled report from UP and will immediately order sampling from other states.