It did so because one state food standards agency had announced the discovery of excess levels of lead after it tested a sample. The agency also discovered traces of monosodium glutamate, though the noodles’ packaging claimed the product was free of the salt.
Some other states followed suit, claiming they had also found similar traces through their own testing, while others said they hadn’t.
The news that Maggi had been withdrawn from sale quickly hit the headlines, leading to an outcry in India over the safety of Nestlé’s product. Further international tests were then carried out on the noodles, which were widely exported from India, but it appeared that the Indian states seemed to have been among the the few to have found alleged evidence of adulteration.
FSSAI’s intervention led, according to Nestlé’s chairman, Peter Brabeck, to the disposal by the company of 29,000 tonnes of noodles at the regulator’s behest.
Having been forced to turn to the courts in a bid to overturn the regulator’s ban, Nestlé earlier this week learnt, along with the world’s media, that India’s government had decided to sue the company in a class action lawsuit alleging Nestlé had misled consumers by selling “unsafe, hazardous, defective and misbranded products”. The government sought damages to the tune of US$99m at current exchange rates.
Two days later, Bombay high court, which Nestlé had petitioned, ruled that the FSSAI had “acted in an emergent, drastic and arbitrary” fashion in ordering Nestlé to withdraw its noodles from the shelves.
It said added the "principles of natural justice" and statutory procedures had not been followed by the food regulator when it issued the ban—essentially backing Nestlé’s argument.
Nestlé is still required by the court to submit five samples of each of the nine Maggi variants to three accredited laboratories for further testing “in the public interest” before Maggi can return to the shelves.