Bombay High Court allows Nestle India to export Maggi noodles

Mumbai(PTI): The Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed Nestle India to export Maggi noodles after Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said it had no objection to the company selling the product abroad though it stood by its decision to ban nine variants of the food snack in the country for being hazardous to public health.

“Why blame us…If the company claims that its product is safe and follows the safety standards then let them export it instead of destroying,” FSSAI counsel Mahmood Pracha argued before a bench of Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawala.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Nestle India challenging the impugned order of June 5 passed by FSSAI banning nine variants of the popular instant food snack. It had also questioned a similar order by the Maharashtra government prohibiting the sale of the same products on the ground that they were unsafe and harmful for the health of people.

As the suggestion came from FSSAI that it had no objection to the company exporting Maggi to other countries, the high court gave liberty to Nestle India for selling the products outside India if it wanted to, and subject to compliance of rules and health and food safety standards.

Nestle’s counsel Iqbal Chhagla said by the end of the month, the company would destroy 17,000 crore packets of Maggi. Of these, 11,000 crore packets are being recalled from the market, he said.

Also read: Nestle sees more than Rs 320 crore hit from Maggi ban

The Maharashtra government submitted that Darius Khambata would appear on its behalf and sought a short adjournment, following which the bench posted the matter to July 14.

Advocate Sumedha Rao intervened in the matter, saying that Nestle India should come out with adequate funding to provide protection to consumers. However, the court did not allow her plea, saying that she can file a separate petition instead of intervening in Nestle’s petition.

Meanwhile, FSSAI and other respondents filed affidavits to oppose Nestle’s petition seeking relief from the ban of Maggi products.

The HC had earlier refused to grant relief to Nestle by rejecting its plea for stay of the impugned orders of the food regulator banning nine variants of Maggi noodles.

The court was of the view that Maggi products had already been withdrawn by the company from the shops and hence, there was no need to grant a stay on the ban.

On June 5, the FSSAI and its CEO passed an order, asking the company to withdraw and recall all its nine variants of Maggi from the market as they were unsafe and hazardous for human consumption. The impugned orders also asked the company to stop production, processing, import, distribution and sale of their products with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, following the Maggi controversy, Indo Nissin on Monday announced withdrawal of its instant noodles brand ‘Top Ramen’ from the Indian market on orders from central food safety regulator FSSAI.

Also read: MSG leads to Rs 1300 crore erosion in Maggi’s brand value

HUL also recalled its Chinese range of ‘Knorr’ instant noodles from the market pending product approval from FSSAI.

Further, global cafe chain Starbucks had to stop use of ingredients not approved by the regulator in certain products served at its India outlets.

(With added inputs)