The Bombay High Court has reserved its order in the case being heard between Nestle India and the Central and State food authorities over the Maggi noodle ban. The Court has offered some suggestions to the parties and will wait till the next hearing before it passes its orders.
In June 2015, the FSSAI’s ban on all the nine variants of Nestlé’s instant Maggi Noodles had caused quite a furore. The matter had come to a head after an Uttar Pradesh based state food regulator had found lead in excess of permitted levels in a sample of Maggi noodles. This had led to an FSSAI nationwide ban on the popular brand and subsequently concerns had arisen about food safety in India.
The Apex Food regulator had termed the two minute noodles “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption on issuing the ban. The Maharashtra Food and Drug Authority had also imposed a similar ban. Nestle had called the ban unfair and arbitrary. They had also argued that the company had not been served any notice before the ban was authorised. Though Nestle had withdrawn its Maggi instant noodles from the Indian market, it had at the same time also challenged the ban in the Bombay High Court.
The Bombay High Court has been hearing the case since a fortnight and has suggested that the samples retained by Nestle be tested again. The Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawala have suggested that the FSSAI and the FDA select random samples from the 750 crates of Maggi instant noodles which the company has kept in Delhi. The Justices have recommended that fresh tests be conducted in five laboratories that can be decided mutually by the food authorities and Nestle. The retesting would be conducted with the involvement of Nestle, FSSAI in consultation with the State Food and Drug Authority.
Nestle India has agreed to the suggestions of Justices provided that retesting is conducted under the supervision of experts that Nestle would provide. It has also provided the names of the experts and the 10 laboratories where it would agree for the tests to be conducted. FSSAI and FDA on the other hand are not agreeable to the suggestion. In their reply they have stated that there is no provision for such testing norms under the FSS Act and they cannot change the procedure just for Nestle. The High Court has said that if the parties fail to agree then it will go ahead and pass the reserved order and give its directions.
If the food authorities and Nestle do not come to some agreement then they will have no option but to follow the directive of the High Court once it passes an order on 3rd August 2015.