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Was the Maggi “ban” in fact a ban? FSSAI says not

By RJ Whitehead , 15-Dec-2015

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

India’s food regulator never “banned” Maggi noodles but instead issued a show-cause notice to Nestlé for an explanation about lead levels and product labelling, a court has heard.

Instead of replying to the show-cause order, the company approached Bombay High Court, argued the Attorney General, who is representing the FSSAI.

The regulator is currently petitioning the Supreme Court to stay the lower court’s decision to overturn a “ban” on the noodles.

The FSSAI argued that Bombay High Court had “erred” in concluding that the show-cause notice had been a ban order. 

The lower court’s decision to lift the “ban” led to the return of Maggi noodles to the shelves in the wake of claims by a state regulator that the product contained excessive levels of lead and monosodium glutamate. Subsequent testing showed these claims to be unfounded.

Key events in the Maggi affair

The regulator said it had only asked the company to stop further manufacture, production, import distribution and sale of its noodle variants in the public interest during the period of consideration of the show-cause notice. 

This, it argued, would not have constituted a ban order, especially when Nestlé had already announced it would recall Maggi noodles, and went on to destroy over 25,000 tonnes of the product.

The Supreme Court bench has now given Nestlé and the Maharashtra government until January 13 to respond to the FSSAI’s arguments.

Meanwhile, Nestlé has asked for a stay on separate proceedings in the consumer forum, which is hearing a class action suit by the government against the Indian subsidiary, and has ordered testing of fresh samples of Maggi.

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