Four months after Karnataka banned Maggi noodles on June 7, the state government is considering withdrawing the ban as the original reasons for the ban did not appear to have stood up to scrutiny.
The ban was invoked by the Karnataka government after directions from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to temporarily stop Nestle India from manufacturing or selling its noodles, including variants in the state, as a precautionary measure to ensure public health.
Preliminary results of tests conducted at a private lab in Karnataka indicated that the levels of lead in the noodles were below the permissible limit, the state health department advised stakeholders to refrain from marketing, distributing and selling the noodles, and also asked the public not to consume it.
On Wednesday, state Health Minister, UT Khader said that the government is contemplating withdrawing the ban because toxins such as lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) were found to be within permissible limits in samples tested here.
Khader told TOI that there was a lack of clarity on why the ban was in place in the state.
â€śWe are thinking of lifting the ban on sale of Maggi, as there's no clarity on why the ban was imposed in the first place. We followed the Centre's directive and tested Maggi samples in labs accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). Results showed lead content was within permissible limits. We tested the same sample in a lab in Kolkata, where the lead content was found to be 2.6 parts per million (ppm). We don't know which result to believe now. How can the same sample show different results in different places?â€ť the minister wondered.
An NABL-accredited lab in Nagarbhavi, south Bengaluru, had tested samples of Maggi in which the lead content was recorded at 0.05 ppm; the permissible limit is 2.5 ppm.
TOI quoted Khader as saying, â€śThe ban has been in place for the past four months but without much clarity. We may lift it. If the Centre questions our decision, we'll ask it to provide scientific evidence to continue with it.â€ť
However, the minister added he wasn't sure if the product would hit the market again. â€śI don't know if Nestle will be willing to start selling Maggi again, even if we lift the ban,â€ť he said.
In August 2015, the Bombay High Court ruled in favour of Nestle in its battle to overturn a nationwide ban of its Maggi instant noodles, but demanded the popular snack be tested again for safety before it could go on sale again.
The Bombay HC's order also criticised the FSSAI's facilities as being ill-equipped and understaffed.