NEW DELHI — The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on Monday issued a notice to Nestle India after the Department of Consumer Affairs filed a class action suit against the company seeking Rs 640 crore in damages.
The suit, filed on August 11, says that Nestle India should pay for alleged unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements of Maggi noodles, which has been banned by the food regulator for containing excess levels of lead and mono-sodium glutamate.
A two-member bench of the NCDRC said it will look into findings of fresh test reports of Maggi noodles at accredited laboratories. "The court has sought fresh, sealed samples to be tested by accredited labs. Further course of action will be decided by the ministry (of consumer affairs)," Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said after the preliminary hearing.
The DCA has said that Nestle's unfair trade practices amounted to selling defective and hazardous products which caused injury to millions of consumers. The company has contested the ban, saying its noodles are safe. Tests in Singapore and the United Kingdom showed that the product is safe for consumption. Last week, the Bombay High Court struck down the ban on Maggi, and asked for the product to be re-tested at three separate laboratories in India. That was a win for Nestle India, but it remains barred from manufacturing or selling the brand of instant noodles until results of the tests come in.
"This makes for a compelling story of trade practices of a large corporation with vast resources taking advantage of unwary consumers," the government said in its petition.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, India's food regulator, had said in its ban-order of June 5 that tests conducted on a batch of Maggi were found to contain more-than-permissible levels of lead and high quantities of mono-sodium glutamate.
(With agency inputs)