US$49.8m of Nestlé’s ‘Maggi’ noodles recalled and recycled as alternative fuel for cement plants

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India: Some US$49.8m, which equates to 27,420t, of Nestlé's Maggi noodles has been recalled in India and is now being used as an alternative fuel at five Indian cement plants. Nestlé said that the recall process is one of the largest in the history of India's food industry.

"The recall of Maggi noodles from the market is an immensely complex mammoth activity, the largest in the history of Nestlé," said Luca Fichera, executive vice president of the supply chain in India. "The trust of our consumers is extremely important for us and despite the enormity, we are focused on completing this efficiently and as fast as feasible."

The recall started on 5 June 2015. Of the total to be consumed by cement plants, some US$32.7m was recalled from the market, while US$17.1m was removed from Nestlé's factories and distribution centres.

The Indian cement plants have been consuming the noodles as alternative fuels since 9 June 2015. "This was the most environment-friendly solution to destroy the recalled noodles: To convert them into fuel," said Fichera. It will take 40 days to destroy the 27,420t of noodles at the five cement plants.

The food safety regulator ordered Nestlé to withdraw the noodles after some samples were allegedly found to contain higher-than-permissible levels of lead. This was rejected by Nestlé, which said that its own independent tests suggested otherwise. Nestlé has since moved to the Bombay High Court, challenging the order. The court has issued notice to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the regulator and other respondents and posted the matter for hearing on 30 June 2015. Nestlé has halted the production of Maggi noodles in its factories since 5 June 2015 and has withdrawn the product from the market.