Battling a controversy over lead content in its popular Maggi noodles, Swiss food group Nestle today replaced its India head Etienne Benet with an Indian, Suresh Narayanan.
Narayanan, the first Indian to be appointed country head after a gap of over 16 years, will take charge as the new Managing Director of Nestle India with effect from August 1.
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The top-level change comes a month after Nestle withdrew Maggi from stores after tests by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) showed an excess presence of the heavy metal. It has since challenged the findings in the Bombay High Court.
UK and Singapore regulators have, however, ruled that Maggi noodles imported from India were safe for consumption.
"Nomination has been received from Nestle SA for the appointment of Suresh Narayanan as the MD of Nestle India with effect from August 1, 2015," Nestle India said in a filing to BSE.
Benet, who took over as Nestle India head on October 1, 2013, will be leaving Nestle India on July 25 and relocating to Nestle Group Head Office in Switzerland, it added.
Narayanan, who had joined the Nestle Group in 1999 in India, is currently the Chairman and CEO of Nestle Philippines.
From 2005 to 2008, he was the head of sales for Nestle's South Asia region where he introduced major structural and strategic changes in sales and customer management.
Last month, Nestle India had announced that it was in the process of destroying Maggi noodles worth Rs 320 crore after it was banned by the safety regulator FSSAI due to presence of excess lead and taste enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG).
On June 5, FSSAI had banned Maggi noodles, directing Nestle to immediately withdraw and recall all the nine variants from the market.