The Supreme Court on Thursday, January 3, dealt a heavy rebuke to Nestle India, asking it: “Why should we eat Maggi with lead in it?”
The court was, according to news agency PTI, hearing a case against the India arm of the multinational FMCG company over its instant noodle brand Maggi.
The case — a class action suit — pertains to harmful lead being found in Maggi in 2015.
Nestle India might have to pay as much as Rs 640 crore if the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) rules against it.
Maggi with lead and MSG
It had all begun in early 2015 when several samples of Maggi were found to contain harmful lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The Food Standards and Safety Association of India (FSSAI) banned Maggi — then the leading brand of instant noodles in India — in June that year.
Nestle India then moved the Supreme Court as the NCDRC entertained a class action suite initiated by the Central government.
The court, in January 2016, ordered fresh tests to be conducted by the Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI).
The report was to have been submitted by April 6 that year, but the case lay dormant for years.
Supreme Court asks tough questions
On Thursday, a Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta told Nestle India counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi that the NCDRC was free to go ahead with the adjudicating the claims made against Nestle India because the process of adjudicating the class action suit had ended with the CFTRI submitting its report.
Singhvi, on his part, pointed out that tests had revealed levels of lead in Maggi were within permissible limits. He also said Nestle had stopped writing “No added monosodium glutamate” on its packs.
It is then that Justice DY Chandrachud asked Singhvi: “Why should we eat Maggi with lead in it?”
With the NCDRC now handling the Central government’s class action suit, it now remains to be seen what lies ahead for Nestle India.