Nestlé has restarted sales of its popular Maggi instant noodles in India after food safety fears left the company with $77m in direct losses, cost its country chief his job, led to the destruction of 37,000 tonnes of packaged noodles and impoverished thousands of fast-food stall owners and distributors.
"It's a very happy moment for us," said Suresh Narayanan, the India managing director appointed in August to deal with one of the biggest product safety scares in Nestlé's history. "We've been through arguably a very big crisis."
The trouble began in June when the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India banned the production and sale of the Maggi instant noodles that made up nearly 30 per cent of Nestlé's business in the country, on the grounds that tests showed them to be "hazardous and unsafe for human consumption" because of excessive levels of lead.
Nestlé denied there was anything wrong with the noodles, which are sold across India and cooked at roadside stalls dubbed "Maggi points". The company was vindicated by a Bombay High Court judgment lifting the ban and describing it as arbitrary and "a violation of natural justice".