In relief to Nestle, Supreme Court stays NCDRC proceedings

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New Delhi | Published: December 17, 2015 1:25:01 AM

In Rs 640-crore class action suit filed by govt, commission had ordered retesting of 16 Maggi samples

In a relief to Nestle India, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the proceedings in the Rs 640-crore class action suit filed by the government before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which last week had directed the retesting of 16 samples of its popular Maggi instant noodles at the Export Inspection Council of India (EICI), Chennai, to check safety of its consumption.

However, the apex court, without refusing to stay testing of the samples, ordered testing at a Mysuru laboratory rather than in Chennai, in pursuance of the direction by the apex consumer court. It also directed that the test report, including the earlier one, be placed before it. The commission had already ordered testing on October 15 on 13 samples of Maggi noodles from nine batches, and the samples were sent to the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysuru, but till now the test results haven’t come.

A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra said: “During the course of the hearing, they (Centre and Nestle) agreed that the primary concern is health and the test has to be carried out to meet the parameters of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.”

“The consent was arrived that Mysore is well equipped with all tests and being a referral notified laboratory, sample should be sent there,” it said. Nestle India, through senior advocate Harish Salve, opposed NCDRC’s direction for test at Chennai saying it is not accredited for lead test.

This was vehemently opposed by attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi, who said that on their request, the sample has been sent to Chennai. However, later Nestle India and the Centre agreed for testing samples at Mysuru. While posting the matter for January, the bench said that the plea be listed along with the appeal filed by food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on January 13, against the Bombay High Court verdict. Nestle had argued that despite its noodles having undergone several rounds of testing at accredited and notified labs, and being safe for consumption, the commission had wrongfully directed fresh rounds of testing. Besides, the testing is required to be done only for lead and not for any compound or derivative of lead. Such a direction would, in any event, “vitiate the test,” it added.

Nestle, in its appeal, said, “The Commission had directed that out of withdrawn stocks of Maggi noodles in the custody of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (of which 100 batch numbers were randomly noted by the local commissioner), 16 samples be sent for testing for presence of lead in any form and monosodium glutamate (MSG), including their quantity in the samples at the EICI.”

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