The Bombay High Court Tuesday asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) if it was influenced by information on the internet while ordering a ban on Maggi noodles. The food authority has cited examples of other countries while stating that Maggi had a poor reputation.
Appearing for the FSSAI, Mehmood Pracha Tuesday submitted several reports stating that he downloaded them from the internet. All the reports, according to him, were significant in establishing that the company’s image was not as celebrated as projected.
Looking at the reports, Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawalla asked, “Was the food authority, while passing the impugned order, influenced by these reports or common knowledge?”
Pracha replied in the affirmative, and said the authority was concerned about food safety.
The state Food and Drug Authority started its arguments through senior counsel Darius Khambatta, after Pracha concluded.
Khambatta argued that in Nestle India’s petition there was not even a “whisper” of allegation it was levelling now about FSSAI relying on test reports that were not from accredited labs. “It only finds a mention in the rejoinder they have filed,” he argued.
Nestle India has claimed that it had tested the product at 2,700 laboratories in India and abroad and the tests indicated that the lead content was less than the permissible limit of 0.5 per cent.
Khambatta said the company should have followed the procedure laid down within the FSS Act before moving the HC. “You cannot brandish 2,700 reports without following the simple procedure within the Act,” he argued.
On June 5, the FSSAI ordered Nestle India to withdraw all nine variants of Maggi instant noodles from the market terming them “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption. The company had earlier argued that the CEO of FSSAI, while passing the order, had acted in an “emergent, drastic and arbitrary” fashion.
Nestle also argued that the food regulator had not served any notice before passing the ban order. A similar order was later passed by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Authority.