Bombay HC strikes down Maggi ban

The Bombay High Court has struck down the ban on Maggi noodles. The next six weeks will be crucial -that's the time the court has given Nestle India to get samples of five variants tested at accredited laboratories in Hyderabad, Mohali and Jaipur to check its lead content.
A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices VM Kanade and BP Colabawalla ruled that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) hadn't given the company enough opportunity to present its stand, which was a violation of natural justice. The food regulator is considering an appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal welcomed the verdict and said this would shed much-needed clarity on an issue that had hurt India's image internationally, particularly after several countries that have much more stringent norms found the Nestle product safe.
The court said any nationwide ban by FSSAI needed to be justified by the regulator. The division bench said a showcause notice had not been issued before the ban and neither were samples tested at accredited laboratories, raising doubts over the results.
FSSAI's primary argument had been that out of 72 samples collected, 30 contained lead above permissible limits and it therefore banned the product on June 5.It also said the company had misled consumers on monosodium glutamate content by printing `No added MSG' on the pack. Nestle India had approached the Bombay High Court on June 12. It told the court the ban was “illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional“ and in violation of the principles of natural justice, since it had not been given a proper hearing.
The ruling won't stop the consumer affairs ministry from pursuing its case against Nestle in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), seeking damages of Rs 639.95 crore from the Swiss giant for selling a “defective and hazardous“ product.
The first hearing of the class action suit filed on behalf of consumers will be heard by a bench headed by justice DK Jain on August 17. They said the basis of the case was different from the one in the Bombay High Court. “We are fighting the case on grounds of unfair trade practices, sale of defective goods and sale of Maggi oats noodles to the public without product approval,“ said a Department of Consumer Affairs official.
Maggi oats noodles had been withdrawn after FSSAI said permission hadn't been sought for its sale. Nestle India is expected to apply for approval to do so.
The ban on Maggi noodles caused consternation among packaged food producers, many of which withdrew similar products from the market fearing that they would be targeted. Food processing minister Badal was prompted to complain that an “inspector raj“ had led to concerns among packaged food companies, which was stalling investment and threatening the government's Make-in-India initiative.
Meanwhile, since the controversy erupted, several international regulators have cleared Maggi noodles imported from India as being fit for consumption in their countries.
An industry lobby group said the testing process needed to be improved.
Following the order, Nestle had said that it would recall all Maggi noodles packets from the market. The company estimated it would have to destroy more than 30,000 tonnes of the noodles.

No comments: