Maggi ban: Safety concerns may rub off on other brands

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Health officers collecting samples of Maggi noodles in Bikaner,Rajasthan, on Thursday PTI

Maggi chart

Nestle creates online info hub to reassure consumers

As confusion grips consumers in the Maggi row, with several States either banning or sending samples for testing, experts believe rising concerns about the product’s safety may also impact other instant noodle brands.

The Delhi government, which has banned Maggi noodles for 15 days, is testing other noodle brands.

Also, there are reports Karnataka and West Bengal are also considering testing other brands.

GP Sah, CEO, CG Foods, said: “Wai Wai meets all regulatory standards. We are not closed to any tests and will cooperate with authorities if required”.

A spokesperson for ITC, makers of Sunfeast Yippee noodles, said: “It is too early to gauge the impact on the industry as a whole. Our food products are manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities.”

The spokesperson said stringent checks are undertaken for these products at ITC’s internationally benchmarked Life Sciences & Technology Centre and reputed external laboratories.

“Our food products have consistently been found to be safe for consumption and in compliance with all regulations,” the company said.

Ajay Gupta, MD at Capital Foods, which owns Ching’s Secret, said while instant noodles are not the company’s core business, the controversy is expected to have wider ramifications for the food processing industry.

However, analysts and brand experts believe that as the in the past when soft drinks brands got embroiled in a controversy leading to a drop in sales, concerns on the safety of one brand that has a dominant market position could rub off on the entire category.

Nalin Khanna, CEO at brand advisory firm, Vertebrand, said: “Maggi has been a cult among consumers. For many consumers, instant noodles mean Maggi.

Concerns about safety of a product like Maggi is expected to have a negative impact on the perception of the entire instant noodle category.”

A senior executive with a consultancy firm also felt there could be some short-term impact on the instant noodle category but did not see this hampering growth for the category in the future.

Aman Mittal, COO at retail chain Savemax, said: “Though it’s early days, we expect some consumers to migrate to other brands, while others may also stop buying into the category.”

Estimates peg Maggi’s share at 63-64 per cent in the instant noodle market that stands at about ₹3,800-4,000 crore.

Nestle India, which has created an online information hub to address consumer concerns, continues to maintain that Maggi is safe for consumption. It had earlier said its internal and external tests of its products have showed that lead levels were well within permissible limits.

On the issue of MSG, Nestle India said it does not add MSG to Maggi noodles sold in India. It has said that the tests may have detected glutamate, which occurs naturally in many foods. “….. the product contains glutamate derived from hydrolysed groundnut protein, onion powder and wheat flour to make Maggi noodles sold in India, which all contain glutamate,” it said on its website.

Sagar Kurade, Vice-President of All India Food Processors Association, said the authorities need to test the composite product rather than just the spice mix before drawing conclusions.

He said care should be taken not to bring in ‘inspector raj’, but encourage the organised food industry.

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Published on June 04, 2015
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