The Indian arm of the world’s largest food company, Nestle, moved the Bombay High Court on Tuesday to contest the orders of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Maharashtra and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banning its instant noodles brand Maggi. In filings to the BSE, Nestle said it has raised “issues of interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011, whilst seeking a judicial review of the orders” passed by the FDA and the FSSAI.
Consequently, in its 51-page petition in the Bombay HC, Nestle claimed that the order passed by the FSSAI on June 5 suffers from “grave infirmities as the FSSAI have admittedly failed to follow the three-prong analysis process”. “In fact, the order is based solely on the test report and not on any risk assessment, communication or risk management,” the petition says.
The Indian Express has reviewed has a copy of the petition.
The FSSAI ordered Nestle India to withdraw all nine variants of Maggi instant noodles from the market, terming them “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption. The company has been given 15 days to reply to a show-cause notice asking why approval for all these products should not be withdrawn. However, Nestle in its petition strongly contested the order, saying, that there is no question of a health risk or violation of law. The company said, “Findings of lead being in excess is devoid of merit. The company disputes the result of analysis relating to the finding of lead in excess of 2.5 ppm (parts per million) in the tastemaker.”
The company disputed test results of the FSSAI, saying there are several results for the same product, making it a strong case for doubting the “credibility” of the test results. “One report finds lead to be 17 ppm, being at so much variation with other reports for the same product, it needs to be isolated for assessment of health risk.” The company claimed that the sample tested by the food authority had passed its expiry date could not have the basis an order having “drastic effects”.
Pointing out that the Maggi tastemaker is not a standardised product, Nestle said it cannot have any defined tolerance limits for lead. The company said all of the tastemaker’s ingredients are specified and regulated to be used under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011. “Thus, the tastemaker cannot be classified in the residual category of ‘food not specified’ which has a tolerance of 2.5 ppm as majority of the ingredients used in the making have an individual tolerance limit of 2.5 ppm or more and a large number of ingredients have a tolerance of 10 ppm,” the petition said.
Nestle reiterated that it “does not add mono sodium glutamate” (MSG) to the instant noodles. The company claimed that it used hydrolysed groundnut protein and a host of other herbs and spices that contain glutamate. Therefore, if tested, there is detection of glutamate, which naturally occurs in various food, including Maggi. “In fact, the analyses conducted by the FSSAI, Delhi, shows out of the 13 samples, only five tested positive for MSG. This clearly implies that MSG is not added by the company and is a naturally occurring compound.”
Nestle, however, said that it will continue to withdraw Maggi from the market. “We shall proceed further as per orders that may be passed by the Bombay HC,” the company said.
It has contested the FSSAI’s move to “alienate” the tastemaker from the noodles and testing it in isolation. Nestle said they committed error by basing its finding on the test whereas the law requires an overall assessment. “Law requires him (FSSAI CEO) to look at assessment based in normal condition of use of food by consumer as well as probable cumulative toxic effects,” Nestle says.
Says FSSAI order is based solely on the test report and not on any risk assessment, communication or risk management.
Disputes tests, saying there are several results for the same product, making it a strong case for doubting the ‘credibility’.
Also, contests the FSSAI’s move to ‘alienate’ the tastemaker from the noodles and testing it in isolation
n Reiterates that it ‘does not add mono sodium glutamate’ to the instant noodles.