The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is testing samples of a Nestle instant noodle brand that was recalled from stores across India last week, a spokeswoman for the Swiss food group said on Thursday.
Nestle, the world's largest food company, is seeking to defend its reputation in India after it pulled Maggi instant noodles from the country’s stores following a finding by regulators that some packets contained excess lead.
Laboratory tests in India also detected the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product’s list of ingredients.
“As some ingredients like groundnut protein, onion powder and wheat flour contain glutamate naturally, this may have led to the confusion and as such Nestle has decided to remove the specific mention of ‘No Added MSG’ from the label,” Nestle Global Chief Executive Paul Bulcke said last week.
News of the test results sparked a nationwide food scare in India that saw students and activists protest for a ban, with at least six states ordering Nestle to pull the product.
A spokeswoman for the Swiss-based company confirmed Thursday the FDA was now also looking into the issue.
“We have been made aware that the FDA has taken samples of Maggi noodles manufactured in India from third-party importers’ containers for testing, and we have asked the importers to advise us of the outcome of the FDA tests,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
Nestle does not import, market or distribute Maggi noodles in the United States, the spokeswoman said. Any Maggi noodle products in U.S. stores are sourced by retailers or imported through third parties, she added.
A spokeswoman for the FDA confirmed the agency was looking into the removal of Maggi noodles from the Indian marketplace but that it was not yet clear whether U.S. products were affected by the recall.
In a separate statement, Nestle India said it had lodged a judicial review with the Bombay High Court over an order from India's Food and Drug Administration, effectively seeking to clarify the state's method of testing the noodles.
The noodles are Nestle's fastest-selling food item in India, accounting for about $240 million in sales annually.
Al Jazeera and wire services