The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from Nestle India on an appeal by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) against lifting the ban on popular instant noodles Maggi.
Nestle’s counsel Harish Salve accepted the formal notice on behalf of the Swiss giant Nestle and said the company would file a reply to the petition by January 5.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the FSSAI, said he is not pressing for an immediate stay of the Bombay High Court order but he wanted to draw the court’s attention towards the difficulties being faced by the food regulator. The bench agreed to examine FSSAI’s contentions on January 13.
Maintaining that the FSSAI had the authority to issue a show-cause notice, the petition said that the high court erred in not considering that Nestle India had “misled” its consumers by the express declaration ‘No added MSG’ in the product when MSG was found in it.
“The High Court erred in not considering that the products of the respondent company had lead levels that were far in excess of the levels indicted in its product approval application as well as levels mandated by the regulations for other foods, which rendered the said products unsafe,” stated the plea.
FSSAI argued that the high court ought not to have given a finding on a disputed question of fact whether MSG in the product was added or not. “Moreover, the High Court ought not to have glossed over a serious issue of mis-declaration by a mere recording that the respondent company has agreed to remove the said mis-declaration from its packaging,” it added.
The regulator emphasised that that various penalties have been provided for mis-branding under the FSSAI Act and an adjudication of such an issue by the High Court would defeat the purpose of the Act.