Food Safety in India - Nestlé’s Maggi continues to Boil
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court, on June 12, 2015, heard the petition filed by Nestlé India (hereinafter referred to as
Nestlé) raising issues of interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, the orders passed by the Commissioner of Food Safety, Maharashtra and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter referred to as
FSSAI). However, Nestlé remains high and dry as it receives no immediate relief.
The developments in this issue were reported by us on June 1, 2015 and the same is accessible
Issues raised by Nestlé
Nestlé challenged the order dated June 5, 2015 passed by the FSSAI as well as the order dated June 6, 2015 issued by the Commissioner of Food Safety, State of Maharashtra on the ground that the said orders were passed without giving any formal show cause notice. Further, the said orders were passed by authorities who allegedly had no jurisdiction to pass the same. Lastly, the procedure followed for the testing of the products was allegedly faulty and, therefore, the order passed on such improper testing was liable to be set aside.
The second issue pertained to the procedure followed by the FSSAI for the testing of the product. Mr. Iqbal Chagla, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of Nestlé, submitted that some of the samples tested by FSSAI were expired. Also, during the testing period of three months, the samples were not sealed and, therefore, results of such product analysis were completely faulty and could not be relied upon.
The learned Senior Counsel further submitted that after having imposed the ban, Nestlé had been asked to show-cause why the product approval, which was granted in respect of 8 of the 9 products, should not be cancelled. It was contended by Mr. Chagla that the FSSAI having prejudged the issue, the procedure of the inquiry in respect of cancelling the product approval was completely arbitrary. He then submitted that Nestlé had already given a Press Release dated June 5, 2015 to withdraw the products from the shelves despite the product being safe.
Order of the Court
The Hon’ble Court has also directed the FSSAI to file a detailed affidavit in reply in respect of the averments made in the Petition and point out the factual and legal submissions which they propose to make. Further, the FSSAI was asked not to take any action in respect of the notice which required the company to explain itself within 15 days over the product approval already granted for MAGGI Noodles, till the next date of hearing.
The Court shall hear the FSSAI’s contentions on June 30, 2015.