Nestle Maggi Noodles may have been banned in India but the Bombay High Court has allowed Nestle to export its India made noodles. The Bombay High Court gave the nod after FSSAI said that it had no objection if the company wanted to export the product. However, FSSAI says that the ban will stand in India. The Bombay High Court reiterated that Nestle would be permitted to export its products subject to compliance of rules, health and food safety standards.
This decision came about in the course of the hearing on the petition filed by Nestle on June 5 after FSSAI had banned nine of Nestle products. The company had challenged the FSSAI order and also that of the Maharashtra government which had also prohibited the sale of the products as being unsafe for consumers. Nestlé’s Counsel also told the High Court that by the end of the month the company would have destroyed 17,000 crore packets of Maggi and out of these 11,000 packets had already been recalled. The High Court had not granted a stay on the ban on Nestlé’s initial plea as it had felt that since the company was already withdrawing its products from the market the Court did not see the need to grant a stay.
FSSAI on the other hand presented a 60 page affidavit justifying its claims for the ban and questioned Nestlé’s safety claims. The FSSAI pointed out that even though Nestle has been selling Maggi for the last 30 years its claims that it was adhering to “strict food safety and quality control at all Maggi factories” has proven to be incorrect. FSSAI said in its affidavit that if for a moment it can be believed that the manufacturing activities and processes are safe as claimed by the company then is it possible to presume that the widespread lead found in the products was intentional. The levels at which lead was found in the products could not have escaped detection by even a reasonably equipped laboratory.
Nestle had argued that the ban was “unauthorised, arbitrary, unconstitutional” and that it violated principles of natural justice as Nestle had not been granted a hearing. FSSAI said the show-cause notice issued to Nestle was an invitation to explain their point of view. FSSAI also said that the company has not filed chart summary report since October 2104 which only raises suspicion. It is to safeguard the larger public interest that the FSSAI CEO thought it prudent to ban all the nine variants of ‘Maggi Instant Noodles with Tastemaker’. The FSSAI also said the Food Safety Standards Act of 2006 gave it the powers to act against any food product found unsafe especially as tests across the country gave evidence of the fact that the product was unsafe. Nestlé’s claim that its lab tests, proved the safety of Maggi did not have legal bearing as that could not be challenged in petition but only in a legal suit.