The Goa Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has found Maggi noodles safe to eat, contradicting the ban imposed on the noodle brand by the country's food regulator, the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
On 5 June, FSSAI had ordered Nestle India to recall all available stocks of Maggi noodles after finding harmful levels of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) in tested samples.
Earlier, in June, the Goa FDA had sent five samples of Maggi noodles to Mysuru's Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) for re-testing, after the FSSAI said that the state regulator's findings were 'questionable'.
CFTRI, an institute approved by the FSSAI, has now found that the samples sent by the Goa food regulator did not contain lead above the permissible levels. The institute also did not find any trace of MSG.
"The lead content in all these five samples has been reported to be well below the permissible limit and the level of monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is negative when analysis was performed separately on the noodles and tastemaker by the Mysuru lab," an official with the Goa FDA, told Business Standard.
"The lab authorities could not speak on the matter as it was sub-judice," said a CFTRI official, requesting anonymity.
Nestle India has challenged the FSSAI ban on Maggi noodles in the Bombay High Court. Last week, the court had asked Nestle India and the FSSAI to retest Maggi samples, raising hopes of some relief for the noodle maker.
The Goa FDA seems to be the only state agency in the country to test the Maggi samples for the third time, to substantiate its findings.
"We are complying with the recall order of FSSAI. But we have sent the samples to Mysuru for counter-verification. This is only to reinforce our (Goa) lab's credibility," Salim A Veljee, director, Goa FDA, had said.
After testing the samples at its lab, the Goa FDA had got them re-tested at the state pollution control board, to ensure that its findings are credible. At both the stages, the Goa food regulator did not find higher levels of lead in the instant noodle.
But in the findings sent to the FSSAI, the Goa agency did not inform about the exact levels of lead it found in the samples, as the chemical content remained well below the permissible limits, said Veljee.
The FSSAI termed the Goa test results 'questionable' for failing to mention the lead content in the samples.
Maggi noodles have been declared as safe to eat in many countries such as Singapore, the UK, and Canada, in sharp contrast to the FSSAI's findings as "hazardous for human consumption."