BAFRA: The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) has sent samples of Maggi noodles to test at the authority’s national food testing laboratory in Yusipang after Indian media reported the noodle containing high amount of lead and monosodium glutamate (MGS).

Chief of analytical and certification division, Jamyang Phuntsho, said that two sets of samples will be sent to two reference laboratories in Thailand to test if the noodles contain more than the permissible limit of lead and MSG.

“It’s not that MSG is not at all allowed in food,” he said. “A certain amount is permissible, as it is a taste enhancer, but not more than the permissible limit.”

BAFRA’s regulatory and quarantine officer, Tashi Yangzom, said that, on May 19, the BAFRA office in the capital was asked to immediately send officers concerned to collect Maggi samples manufactured on different dates, available in the town.  Five batches of the noodle samples manufactured at different months were collected.  The oldest stock available in Thimphu was manufactured in October last year.  Similar samples from other dzongkhags will also be collected.

“It’s a good food safety alert for us and we have to see how genuine it is, because we don’t get proper information, such as in which batch of the noodle was the lead content high,” Tashi Yangzom said.

According to media reports, a high lead content was found during routine tests on two-dozen packets of instant noodles, manufactured by Nestle in India.  The Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) in Uttar Pradesh, according to India media reports, found a lead concentration of 17.2 parts per million (ppm), nearly seven times more than the permissible limit, while the acceptable limit of lead ranges lies between 0.01 ppm and 2.5 ppm.

BAFRA officials said, if the test results found the content of lead and MSG in the noodle more than the permissible limit, then the authority might recall the available stock in the market.

“Most of the time, when such cases occur, BAFRA works together with distributors and recalls the products,” Tashi Yangzom said.  The test results are expected by the end of next week.

By Dechen Tshomo