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The Nepal government has decided to impose a ban on importing and selling of Indian noodle brand, Maggi, in its market for an undefined period. With noodles being a very popular dish in the Himalayan nation, Maggi, along with other domestic noodles, is likely to face strong food quality checks, officials here said.
'Yes, we are putting a ban on importing and selling Maggi in Nepal following the controversy in India,' Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary at the ministry of agriculture development, told IANS on Thursday. He further added that his ministry was going to issue a public notice on Friday urging consumers to avoid eating Maggi following the controversy in India. The noodles market in Nepal itself is quite big and some of the Nepali noodle brands like Wai Wai are popular in India too. The ban will continue until further notice, Bhattarai said, adding that some samples have also also been sent to laboratory to confirm whether Maggi noodles in Nepal also contain excessive lead as has been reported in India.
The government has also urged the public not to consume Maggi and urged traders to return the product. The Department of Food Technology and Control of Nepal has already recommended to the government to ban sale of Indian noodles citing growing opposition in India and Nepal. The department also summoned the chief distributor of Maggi and instructed him to stop selling the product. The government has also requested the International Food Safety Network (iFSN) to provide details about Maggi products. There are also calls from consumer rights groups to test the quality of the ready-to-eat food as it can pose serious health hazard to the people.
The Maggi saga is likely to have ripple effects in the Nepali noodle market and over a dozen domestic brands have to undergo laboratory tests. The department of food quality said that once the testing of Maggi noodles was over, it would conduct further tests on Nepali noodles and foreign branded noodles. Traders here say that after Wai Wai, Maggi is a popular brand in Nepal and Maggi soup is one of the most popular brands among soup items.
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