As the ban on Maggi noodles continues to eat into its market share, Nestle India has taken the legal route to challenge the regulatory crackdown on its flagship product.
Five days after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India banned Maggi Instant Noodles and Maggi Oats Noodles, manufacturer Nestle India moved the Bombay high court against the order on Thursday. The petition has not yet been listed for hearing before a bench.
Earlier, the Centre had slapped a complaint against the manufacturer with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission using a provision for the first time from the nearly three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act.
Describing the alleged lapses related to food safety standards in Maggi noodles as a “serious issue”, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said the commission would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
The company has also challenged a subsequent order passed by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Maharashtra, on various grounds. Following reports of high lead content in Maggi, the FDA Maharashtra conducted its own tests and banned the sale of Maggi in the state on June 6.
Apart from complaining about non-compliance with principles of natural justice, Nestle India has primarily disputed the method of calculating lead content.
According to medical experts, excessive intake of lead can cause damage to the kidneys, bones and nervous system. It is particularly harmful to children and can cause learning disorders. Health experts say MSG, often used as a flavour enhancer in processed food and in some restaurants, can damage the nervous system with long-term use.
The company has contended that Maggi contains just 6 grams of tastemaker, which is added to 64 grams of noodles and 250ml water. Thus if the entire food item is taken into consideration, the quantity of lead is 0.12 ppm, much lower than the prescribed limit, the company has claimed.
The company got a major boost on Tuesday when Singapore revoked a ban it had imposed on Maggi noodles imported from India, a move that led to Nestle India shares surging 9.4% on the National Stock Exchange, their biggest single-day rise in five years. The shares had fallen by more than 10% after the nationwide ban was imposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.