Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 5:
The packets of Maggi noodles are fast disappearing from the malls and shops in Odisha with sales dropping by as much as 70 percent in the retail market after reports of the presence of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) beyond permissible limits in it.
“We have stopped the sale of Maggi at our store. We used to sell around 2.5 lakh Maggi packets every month on which we used to earn Rs 12 lakh. Though we haven’t received any communication from Nestle, we have discontinued the sale of the noodles in the wake of food safety issues surrounding the product and in the interest of consumer sentiment and concern,” Director of Bhubaneswar Vishal Mega Mart, Sujit Rout said.
When contacted, officials of the Future Group’s Big Bazaar said, “We have stopped its sale at stores across the country, including Odisha, after the samples were sent for tests for lead beyond permissible limits.”
However, the staff refused to divulge the sales figure of the product saying they are not authorised to disclose such information.
All the retail outlets of Big Bazaar and seven stores of Vishal Mega Mart have offloaded the Maggi noodles from their stores.
“The sale of noodles contributed significantly in the food products category. But the shelves are empty now. However, in the unorganised retail sector, the sale of Maggi packets was high, especially the Rs 5 and Rs 10 packets. The sales in this sector has dropped by 70 percent,” he said.
Notably, the existing stock of the snack is being sold at rural and semi-urban areas across the state.
When Nestle India’s spokesperson in Mumbai was contacted, he refused to comment on the controversy over the presence of lead beyond permissible limits and undeclared presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in their products, which is currently under the scanner of the food safety departments.
“It is very difficult to keep the kids away from Maggi noodles. I used to pack noodles in the lunch box for my kids. But after watching the news on presence of lead in it, I have stopped giving it to them,” Mami Garnaik, a housewife said.
Odisha followed suit after states across the country sent samples for testing and restricted the sale of Maggi noodles.
Odisha government has sent samples to a Pune laboratory for testing. Based on the findings, it will take a decision on ban on sale of the products.
“We are concerned about the health of the consumers. If harmful contents are found in the samples and the state government bans the sale of Maggi in the state, we will support its decision,” All Odisha Traders’ Associations Secretary Sudhakar Panda said.
As per an estimate, the annual turnover of Maggi across the country was put at Rs 1500 crore. Sales have plunged by around 60 percent since the controversy erupted.
Following the controversy, the sales of Switzerland-based company’s products have been badly hit. Besides, the sales of noodles of other competitors has also been affected, though they have not been hit as hard as the Maggi brand.