LATEST TEST reports of Maggi noodles were Tuesday presented before the Supreme Court, which had directed a laboratory in Mysore to examine afresh 16 samples of Nestle India’s popular snack for presence of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
However, less than a week before the hearing in the top court, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification stating that food business operators will not be prosecuted for presence of MSG, a popular preservative and flavour enhancer, in their products.
Claiming that it was not possible to scientifically establish whether MSG was naturally present or added by the manufacturer, the FSSAI contended that the only way to prove its addition was “through inspection” of the manufacturing units. The March 31 notification said no operator will henceforth be prosecuted if the labels are silent regarding the presence of MSG, unless its addition was ascertained through physical “inspection” of the manufacturing premises.
FSSAI chairman Ashish Bahuguna said the notification had nothing to do with Maggi as the tussle between them and Nestle India was over the presence of lead in the popular instant snack. “Currently the question of whether the product contained lead above permissible limits or not is the one in which trial is on. The MSG order has no bearing on Maggi or any other pasta or noodles brand. It is merely a direction to enforcement officers,” said Bahuguna. But Bahuguna’s explanation is contrary to what the Consumer Affairs Ministry claimed before the National Consumer Commission while filing a class action suit, demanding Rs 640 crore as damages from Nestle.
In its complaint, the Department of Consumer Affairs had not only accused Nestle of carrying a misleading label stating “No Added MSG” on Maggi, but had also asserted that “MSG is a known allergen and can be detrimental for the brain.”
On Tuesday, FSSAI’s appeal against the Bombay High Court order of lifting the ban on Maggi and Nestle’s appeal against the class action suit came up for hearing in the apex court. The bench directed supplying copies of the lab reports to all the parties and adjourned the matter for hearing in July.