Bombay High Court allows Maggi exports, keeps domestic curbs

Mumbai (IANS): In a partial relief for Swiss fastfood giant Nestle, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed the company to export all varieties of its popular two-minute Maggi noodles from India, though restrictions on domestic marketing would continue.

The order came after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which ordered the ban since June 5, said it has no objections to the company exporting the products instead of destroying them.

A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice B.P. Colabawala scheduled the matter for further hearing on July 14.

Maggi products, including the two-minute noodles, were banned by the FSSAI earlier this month after several samples were found to contain lead and MSG beyond permissible limits.

Shortly afterward, Nestle India challenged the ban on the grounds that it was “unauthorised, arbitrary, unconstitutional” as it violated the right to equality and trade, and was violative of principles of natural justice since the company was not given a proper hearing.

The company also questioned a similar order passed by the Maharashtra Food and Drugs Authority, banning it in the state on the grounds of being unsafe and harmful to the people.

Nestle’s counsel Iqbal Chagla informed the court that by end of this month, the company would destroy 17,000 crore packets of Maggi, of which 11,000 crore were recalled from the markets.

Earlier this month, the high court declined to grant any relief to the company and rejected Nestle’s plea to suspend the ban orders on nine of its product variants.

The FSSAI has justified the ban on Maggi products and termed as “incorrect” the company’s claims that it adhered to “strict food safety and quality control at all Maggi factories”.

Questioning the company’s claims in its detailed 60-page affidavit, the FSSAI said the present situation “has arisen only because the company has failed to adhere to its own declared policy and principles”.