Ban on Maggi: High Court lifts ban, orders fresh tests within 6 weeks

Maggi could soon be back on sale after the Bombay High Court lifted the nation-wide ban on Maggi noodles, subject to fresh tests.

Written by Aamir Khan | Mumbai | Updated: August 14, 2015 9:51 am
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The Bombay High Court on Thursday set aside the countrywide ban on nine variants of Nestle’s Maggi instant noodles, saying the national food regulator had acted in an “arbitrary” manner and not followed the “principles of natural justice” while banning the product.

The court, however, ordered Nestle India to conduct fresh safety tests on the product before relaunching it.

The Indian unit of Nestle had challenged a June 5 order of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and a similar order by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Authority (FDA) directing it to withdraw all variants of the noodles, citing the presence of excessive lead.

While setting aside the ban, Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawalla clarified that Nestle India has to send five samples of the noodles in its possession for fresh tests before bringing it back to the market.

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The court said it was still concerned about “public health and public interest”. “Even though it is two-minute noodles, it took us a lot of time,” the court said, minutes after setting aside the ban.

The tests will be carried out within six weeks at three centres accredited and recognised by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL): Vimta Labs, Hyderabad; Punjab Biotechnology Incubator, Mohali; and CEG Test House and Research Centre Pvt Ltd, Jaipur.

Reacting to the order, Nestle welcomed the decision and said it would undertake fresh tests of Maggi noodles.

Referring to the ban, the high court observed: “(The) principles of natural justice have not been followed before passing the impugned order and on that ground alone impugned orders are liable to be set aside, particularly when the petitioner (Nestle India), one day prior to the impugned order, had given a press release that it had recalled the product till the authorities were satisfied about the safety of the product.”

The court also said that the food labs engaged by the FSSAI, which found excessive lead in Maggi noodles, were not “authorised” under the FSS Act and Regulations. Therefore, the results could not be relied upon, it said.

Besides, the mandatory procedure of giving a notice under the provision of sampling and analysis was not followed, the court said.

During the arguments, FSSAI had alleged that Nestle India could not claim any relief as it had suppressed facts and attempted to destroy evidence. The High Court, however, negated this line.

Another question was whether FSSAI could impose a ban on Maggi noodles on the grounds that the lead found in tests was in excess of what the company had represented on its product approval application —- it was below the maximum permissible limit. The answer to this was also negative, the court said.

As to the question of whether the FSSAI had “unfettered” discretion to decide on standards to be maintained by companies such as Nestle India which manufactures proprietary food or non-standardised food, the court’s response was again ‘no’.

The court also observed that lab reports obtained by the company from its labs and other accredited labs could not be considered.

Soon after the High Court passed its order, the FSSAI and the FDA sought a stay. The court, however, observed that Nestle India had already said that it was not going to either manufacture or sell Maggi noodles and refused to oblige the two agencies. The court also allowed the company to seek approval for its tenth variant, Maggi Oats Masala Noodles.

The company had earlier argued that the CEO of FSSAI, while passing the order, had acted in an “emergent, drastic and arbitrary” fashion while raising doubts over his jurisdiction.

Nestle also argued that the food regulator had not served any notice before ordering a ban. Nestle claimed it has been operating in India for 30 years and had a global footprint.

The government has also filed a class action suit against Nestle India seeking, Rs 640 crore in damages for alleged unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements.

“Nestle India respects the decision made on August 13 by the Honourable Bombay High Court to revoke the ban order passed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and FDA, Maharashtra, on Maggi noodles and will comply with the order to undertake fresh tests,” the company said.

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  1. K
    Jan 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm
    we all, the maggi lovers have grown up eating maggi with all the variants, who the hecking researcher was that who said that maggi has lead from uttar pradesh?? he or she has no right to point the 30 year old compamy nestle to even point out.!!! and whoever will want maggi to be free of ban will coment in this website. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;MAGGI, I AM ALWAYS WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!
    1. R
      Rekha joshi
      Aug 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm
      We wheartedly respect this Nestle b.Its good News for Maggi Lovers.Now maggi breath in fresh air.
      1. R
        Rekha joshi
        Aug 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm
        We wheartedly respect this Nestle b.Its good News for Maggi Lovers.Now maggi breath in fresh air.
        1. J
          Jonathan Nate
          Aug 13, 2015 at 1:27 pm
          UPDATE: Indian Government Attempting to Extract Lead from Noodles. Expects to earn $2 million to be used for treatment of victims: starts_extraction_of_lead_from_unsafe/
          1. A
            Ajoy Daspurkyasha
            Aug 14, 2015 at 8:27 pm
            Instant trouble for FSSAI ? I think it is otherwise if you please go through my depositions as below . This MAGGI---episode in India would not happen if the alleged company was transparent in label declaration. For the reason best known to them, they exposed themselves to the w world as an erring/defiant company through FSSAI,New Delhi when they wrote “No added MSG” which is in utter violation of the laws of the land of the Republic of India in the matters of food . By doing this kind of unbecoming act , the erring /alleged company through their acts and deeds furthermore landed in big food safety troubles with the food regulatory authority of the country in question where the Adviser himself was last 3 times Booss(Chairman) of the Codex Alimentarius Commission(Equivalent to Universal Food Law Commission),Rome, Italy. Any food regulator in the world will get highly suious when the food regulator sees that “NO ADDED MSG” in the label when MSG(Mono Sodium Glutamate) itself is a big health issue to upkeep public health and safety of utmost importsance. As per the laws of the land of the the Republic of India so far as food is concerned, there is no provision to mislead consumer with writing extra word/words like “No added MSG”. This in itself a violation of the laws of the land of the the Republic of India so far as food is concerned. What evidence the alleged erring company is trying to make as per Indian Evidence Act? Nothing but just keeping themselves away from transparency in label declaration. In fact this act and deeds of the alleged company eventually not only violating India’s laws connected to the processed food in question but coming under the unprecedented continuous surveillance/scanner under FSSAI, New Delhi and then onwards the fall of the rise of 30 years market leader b starts . Public Analysts are the court appointed posts in India and for that matter in any country of the world and it is my opinion that the honourable court in india can not disbelief their their own acts and deeds . Be it a big company, be it a small company --- no small is a small and no big is a big --- in the eyes of laws of the land in terms of food to do business in india and I strongly believe FSSAI,New Delhi was extremely professional in making that very fundamental fact clear to one and all including the manufacturers of Maggi. Only published laws , rules and regulations are the reference for food manufacturers and the Food regulators are not duty bound to interect with food manufacturers on a regular-basis. It is very good now that in India, the Govt. can sue a company against their alleged misdeeds and do a damage-claim in terms of damaging the health of the consumers/citizens of the country and I heartily believe that this will remain as a great example that a food company has a social responsibily not only on paper but also in real functioning of the company that every of their product will upkeep the health of the consumers and will not do otherwise. How can FSSAI,New Delhi can obtain exact representative samples of the then MAGGI,when the alleged MAGGI manufacturers for the reason best known to them,have hurriedly destro the MAGGI by burning them in cement plants resulting into another trouble---destruction of evidence utterly violating the destruction of Indian Evidence Act. Most importantly,here, I will like to say that how the MAGGI manufacturers will see the destruction of evidence ----is a million dollar question in itself ---and probably many more millions of rupees of lost revenues from the once upon a time delightful consumers of MAGGI is yet to be experienced. The father of the Indian nation Mahatma hi (Bapu) once related customer with business as follows: ----“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.”
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