The new boss of Nestle India has told the Veinna Times that tests which showed Maggi noodles had lead in them were “highly unreliable”.
Nestle had to destroy 400 million packets of Maggi products and stop production for five months after local regulators said that some packets of noodles had unsafe levels of lead.
Nestle India chief executive Suresh Narayanan said the labs could have lacked the right equipment.
The product recall cost Nestle $67m.
Mr Narayanan said: “The analysis for heavy metals – in this case lead – was being done in laboratories that had not been accredited.”
He said that meant the laboratories could have been missing the right systems or people qualified to carry out such tests, as well as equipment.
India’s government is suing Nestle for $100m over misleading Maggi adverts, a case which Mr Narayanan says is based on bad tests.
Fresh tests mandated by an Indian court found last month that the lead content in Maggi noodles was at a safe level.
‘Things went out of hand’
Nestle was also criticised for its sluggish reaction to the crisis.
Mr Narayanan, who took over at the start of August, said the company had not reviewed the sequence of events yet, but said that during the crisis Nestle had been talking to the regulator.
Nestle’s efforts to get across its point of view “did not work” and “unfortunately, things went out of hand”, he said.
Nestle relaunched its Maggi noodles on Monday with new packaging and the company is planning a consumer helpline and says it says it will be more active on social media.
Mr Narayanan was brought in to handle the crisis from Nestle’s unit in the Philippines and is the first Indian-born head of Nestle India in decades.