A packet of Maggi noodles.
Nepal has temporarily banned the import and sale of Nestle's Maggi noodles from India, following reports that the level of lead content in the popular instant snack in India was found to be above permissible limit.
"We have banned the import and sale of Maggi noodle for the time being as India, the country where the noodle is produced, itself has imposed ban in the food item," said Kamal Prasad Bhattarai, Deputy Director General of Department of Commerce and Supplies Management.
"We have submitted the samples of the noodle to the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control to test its quality and the item has been banned for sale and distribution until the result of the test is published," he told PTI.
Maggi noodles, a popular brand of noodle manufactured in India, was banned in different Indian states after a high level of lead along with excessive amounts of taste enhancer such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) were detected in the noodle.
The noodle brand is also popular in Nepal and available in departmental stores and shopping malls.
He said that the noodle brand can be banned permanently if the final test report shows that the noodles contain inedible items.
The concerned body of the government on Monday started laboratory tests for Maggi noodles after the brand was banned in India. The test report will be out in a few days.
Meanwhile, the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) has issued a notice asking the general public not to consume Maggi noodles until further notice.
Sanjeeb Kumar Karna, director general of DoFTQC, said, "necessary action will be taken against Maggi and its distributors and importers if the product is found to be at fault."
The noodle brand came under scrutiny last month after the Utter Pradesh Food Safety and Drug Administration asked Nestle India to withdraw a batch of Maggi noodles produced in February last year as the brand was found using excessive amounts of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and there was also high percentage of lead.
The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) has also said that it would check the quality of other noodle brands available in Nepal.
"We will begin laboratory tests of both domestic and foreign noodle brands," said a senior officer. Lead content in 14 of 27 samples in India was found to be 2.8 PPM to 5 PPM (particle per million), which is above the prescribed limit of 2.5 PPM. Presence of excess lead is harmful for health.