Nestles Maggi woes rumble on

Nestle's Maggi woes rumble on

Indian consumer court the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has issued a notice to Nestle, seeking a response to government accusations the company used unfair trade practices and sold defective goods when it distributed its Maggi branded noodles.

The class action lawsuit is being brought before the NCDRC by India's Department of Consumer Affairs. "The Department has filed this class action suit on behalf of the large number of consumers of Maggi in the country against Nestle India on grounds of unfair trade practices, sale of defective goods and sale of goods to the public by selling Maggi Oats Noodles without product approval," the Department said.

Nestle has been accused of selling Maggi noodles in India with excess levels of lead. The company is also facing allegations the noodles contain MSG when they stated no MSG was added on the label. The company maintains it does not add MSG to its Maggi noodles manufactured in India and rejected claims its product contains levels of lead higher than those permitted under Indian regulations.

Nestle last week won a concession in the Bombay High Court, which lifted a ban on the sale of Maggi noodles imposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. The Department of Consumer Affairs has nevertheless decided to push ahead with its own legal proceedings.

The complaint seeks compensation totaling almost INR6.4bn (US$97.9m). "The complainant has sought a sum of INR2.84bn that the opponent company is liable to pay and a sum of INR3.55bn as punitive damages on account of the gross negligence, apathy and callousness on the part of the opponent company," the consumer watchdog revealed.

A spokesperson for Nestle told just-food the group is yet to receive the notice. "We will take appropriate action as advised after we receive the notice. We hope you will appreciate that since the matter is sub-judice we cannot comment any further," the spokesperson said.