Despite the stand taken by the food safety watchdog, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said he was hopeful that Nestle's Maggi will be back on the shelves soon, drawing comfort from favourable test reports for the top instant noodles brand from some accredited laboratories.
"The latest tests conducted by Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) has found Maggi safe. I have a gut feeling it will return to retail shelves soon," Paswan said of the margins of a conference on fast moving consumer goods, hosted by Assocham here.
He was alluding to the test reports from the Mysore facility of the lab, which gave is report based on the samples sent to it by the Goa food safety department. The minister's comments also come against he backdrop of the food safety regulator declining to take note of the latest report.
Paswan made it clear that consumer interest will be paramount while deciding on the matter pertaining to ban against Maggi, while expressing concern over the negative perception such developments have created in the minds of the potential foreign investors.
"I am worried. After Maggi ban the perception of people changed. Foreign investors will also now think twice before investing in India. Our credibility is at stake," he said, adding: "But all this is possible to rectify only after addressing all concerns. The concerns of our consumers is most important."
Speaking in Hindi, he also sought to use an analogy.
"We cannot take everything for granted. The whole Maggi episode is like what happens after the rains -- pots made of mud get destroyed, but utensils made from steel and brass shine. I hope Maggi will start shining again," he told IANS.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Wednesday said Nestle India had not been given a clean chit regarding its noodles and that its ban order of June 5 was still operative, despite a noted lab in Karnataka reportedly finding the snack to be safe.
But following the favourable test reports, Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza aaid he favoured a re-think on the ban since it was certified laboratory that found the popular instant noodle to be safe for consumption. "Why should you ban something when it is safe? If it was not safe I could have understood."
India's official food regulator on June 5 had banned the sale of Maggi after an allegedly high amount of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) were found in samples. Following that, Nestle withdrew all variants of the noodle, while continuing to maintain that its products were safe.
On the latest matter, Nestle has refrained from making any comment, on the ground that the matter was sub judice. The Bombay High Court is hearing the matter.