Indian High Court overturns ban of Nestle's Maggi noodles
Nestle said its tests showed Maggi met standards
The Bombay High Court has overturned a ban imposed on Nestle's Maggi branded noodles by India's food safety watchdog.
In a judgement delivered today (13 August) the court revoked the order banning the sale of Maggi noodles. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had prohibited the sale of Maggi noodles in June after claiming tests detected levels of lead higher than those permitted under Indian regulations. The noodles were also said to contain MSG despite being labelled as free from the ingredient.
Nestle, however, maintained its noodles were safe and contested the validity of the FSSAI's testing procedures. The company claimed its own tests – and those conducted by an independent accredited laboratories in India and internationally – found no indication of high lead levels. "In recent months, we had over 2,700 samples of Maggi noodles tested by several accredited laboratories both in India and abroad. Each one of these tests have shown lead to be far below the permissible limits," a spokesperson said.
The court also dismissed a ban introduced by the food safety body in the state of Maharashtra.
While the bans on Maggi noodles was overturned, the High Court also requested fresh testing be undertaken.
Reflecting on the court's verdict, a spokesperson for Nestle told just-food the company "respects" the decision "to revoke the ban order" and "will comply with the order to undertake fresh tests".
The spokesperson continued: "Nestle India remains committed to working with the FSSAI, FDA Maharashtra and other stakeholders. It is Nestle India’s endeavour to get Maggi Noodles back on the shelves as soon as possible for the benefit of our consumers."
Nestle is also facing a complaint from India's consumer watchdog, which has been filed with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The Department of Consumer Affairs is seeking damages to the tune of INR6.34bn.
The company said it is "disappointed" by the "unprecedented step" of filing a complaint through the NCDRC. "It appears that the complaint makes similar allegations which were made to ban the product on 5 June 2015," Nestle said. These issues were under consideration in at the high court, Nestle stressed.
The complaint – and the court case – also focused on whether Maggi noodles contain the ingredient MSG when the product packaging stated that no MSG had been added. "We confirm that we do not add monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the manufacture of Maggi noodles. MSG is one of several forms of glutamic acid found in natural foods such as groundnuts/peanuts, wheat flour, tomatoes and cheese. As we use some of these ingredients in Maggi noodles, the product will contain natural glutamic acid. We therefore strongly reiterate that the "No Added MSG" statement on the product was not an attempt to mislead consumers," the company insisted.
"Nestle is a responsible company which has been in the service of consumers in India for over 103 years and has always provided quality and safe products. We have built our reputation on fair dealing with all stakeholders."
The group revealed today that the Maggi recall had dragged on its performance in the first six months of the year, weighing on real internal sales growth in the company's combined Asia Oceania and Africa division by 20-40 basis points and costing the company a total of CHF66m (US$67.4m).
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