South African consumers can continue enjoying Nestlé’s popular Maggi Noodles, according to Nestlé SA, following claims of lead contamination in India. “We would like to reassure our South African consumers that the quality and safety of all our products are non-negotiable priorities for us, and our Maggi Noodles are therefore absolutely safe for consumption,” Nestlé SA’s Media Relations Manager Millicent Molete said.

Indian food authorities in Lucknow asked Nestlé to recall about 200 000 packs of Maggi Noodles after tests showed that it contained elevated levels of lead and traces of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). “The alleged incident is only isolated to India and is still under investigation,” said Molete.

Different noodle recipes

She said Nestlé SA does not use the same recipe for its Maggi Noodles as Nestlé India. “We do not use the same recipe. Nestlé is a decentralised company and our products are manufactured locally at our Maggi factory in Babelegi, Tshwane.” Scientists in India claim to have found a lead concentration of 17.2 parts per million (ppm), almost seven times the permissible limit, which ranges between 0.01 ppm and 2.5 ppm.

Lead is a heavy metal that is found naturally in the earth’s crust, said Irene Labuschagne who is a dietician at the Nutrition Information Centre of Stellenbosch University (Nicus). “It is present in small amounts throughout the environment due to its natural occurrence and its release into the environment by human activities such as mining, smelting and battery manufacturing. Lead in soil can be deposited on or absorbed by plants, including plants grown for food.”

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