Nestle SA is battling a reputation problem in India and has had to pull its Maggi instant noodles from stores throughout the country after regulators reported that some packets contained an excess amount of lead.
After being criticized for not reacting decisively and swiftly enough, Nestle bowed to the pressure early Friday and announced a recall nationwide in the Asian country.
In an attempt to soften the most significant food scare to hit India in close to a decade, the food giant based in Switzerland had Paul Bulcke the group’s CEO try to calm consumers through a press conference televised on local TV.
However, a rowdy gathering ensued and he was shouted down frequently by Indian reporters.
Nestle’s troubles were increased when the regulator of food safety in India issued a statement at the time the meeting was ending, accusing the Swiss food giant of a violation of labeling and other regulations in India.
The regulator ordered a complete recall of all instant noodles that it called hazardous and unsafe for consumption by humans.
Bulcke told a news conference packed with reporters that the company lives on the valued trust of its consumers. He also repeated that the company has recalled its noodles to ease the shaken minds of consumer but no safety concerns existed with the noodles.
Sales of the Maggi noodles in India are only 0.005% of the global revenue for the Swiss company of nearly $98.5 billion, but brand damage of Maggi could extend even further and Bulcke quickly said that the company fell short in responding.
Since the first report was made in Uttar Pradesh a northern state two weeks ago by inspectors, at least another six states, several big retailers and the army in India have banned the Maggi noodles. On Thursday, Tamil Nadu was the first state to ban a number of instant noodle brands, one of which was Nestle.
The two-minute Maggi noodles, which cost $0.20 per packet that is single serving, are very popular in the country. The snack is served frequently to children as well as being eaten at shacks alongside the roadside and at Maggi points throughout the countryside.
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