The Bombay high court quashed on Thursday the food regulator's ban on popular Maggi noodles, but asked manufacturer Nestle India to conduct fresh tests in view of public health concerns.
The court said samples from five of the nine variants of Maggi have to be tested by government accredited and recognised laboratories.
The company will be allowed to manufacture Maggi again if the lead level in the samples is within permissible level, the HC said, adding the sample-testing has to be done within six weeks.
A division bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice BP Colabawalla delivered the order while hearing a petition filed by Nestle, after regulator FSSAI banned all nine variants of Maggi on June 5 this year.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh -- appearing for FSSAI -- asked for a stay on the order, but the court recorded that the order passed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was set aside.
Nestle took Maggi off the shelves after several states found that the noodles contained dangerously high levels of lead and chemical flavour enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
Health experts say excessive intake of lead can cause damage to the kidneys, bones and nervous system and is particularly harmful to children and can cause learning disorders. MSG, on the other hand, can damage the nervous system with long-term use.
Subsequently, the FSSAI banned Maggi, saying that it had noted three 'major violations': the presence of lead detected in the product in excess of the maximum permissible levels, misleading labelling information on the package reading 'No added MSG' and the release of a non-standardised food product 'Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker' in the market, without risk assessment and grant of product approval.
Recently, the government had hit Nestle with a Rs 640-crore damage suit. In a first-of-its-kind “class action” complaint against Nestle India, the government said the company had misled consumers with advertisements that claimed that the noodle was a healthy snack.