‘Only seven firms can sell instant pastas, tests on all’

New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) Instant noodles and pastas with tastemakers of only seven companies are allowed to be sold in India, the food safety watchdog said on Monday, while also ordering tests on all approved variants and calling for the remaining “illegal” ones to be destroyed.

The seven companies that have approvals for their variants of instant noodles and pastas with tastemakers are: Ruchi International (Koka), CG Foods (Wai Wai), Glaxosmithkline (Foodles), Nestle (Maggi), AA Nutrition (Yummy), Indo Nisin (Top Ramen) and ITC (brand not specified).

“The safety of all other products in these categories has not been assessed as per the product approval procedures. As such, the same are unauthorised and illegal and cannot be intended for human consumption,” said a letter from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Ordering tests on all the approved varieties, the letter written by chief executive Yudhvir Singh Malik to all the commissioners of food safety said: “As regards all the remaining food products, you are advised to ensure such products are recalled, removed from the market and destroyed.”

Speaking to IANS, the top food safety officer said tests on Nestle’s Maggi and some other similar products had raised serious health concerns and that it was, accordingly, thought fit to conduct tests on all similar products for which approvals had been granted.

Following tests on some samples of Maggi, the watchdog on Friday had ordered the recall of all the nine variants of Maggi pan-India and had asked Nestle to halt its production and exports. It had also issued a similar order on Nestle’s oats noodles and tastemaker.

While Nestle continued to contend that its noodles were safe for human and that the levels of lead were within permissible limits – as opposed to the findings of some tests that purportedly indicated otherwise – several states also became pro-active by issuing their own ban orders.

“Overseas and local manufacturers would be treated equally. More noodle brands including pasta and macaroni products will also start getting tested this week,” Malik said.

Asked if the brand ambassadors could be taken to task, he said: “As of now, we are not considering any action.”

The regulator also detailed the process involved in the recall of food products.

“Ideally, consumers should be able to return the product at the retail outlet and get their money back if they have the bill with them. It is also Nestle’s responsibility to let the consumers return their products, if they have kept the bill with them,” he said.

The regulator also plans to post a list of all approved noodle products on its web site and advise the state authorities to test them. “We understand Delhi, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have already started testing other brands. We will list all the approved noodle products soon.”

He further said that Nestle had been asked to give the regulator an update on compliance first after three days and then regularly until the end. “Because we understand that it could take 10 days or more, we will be taking regular progress reports from the company.”

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