The Bombay High Court has lifted the ban on Maggi noodles, subject to fresh tests (Agence France-Presse photo)
Maggi noodles are not banned anymore in the country, the Bombay High Court has ruled, though new tests are required to prove that the popular snack does not contain excess lead.
In a sharp indictment of the country's food safety regulator, the court ruled, "Principles of natural justice have not been followed in announcing the ban". In June, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said the snack was found "hazardous and unsafe for human consumption".
Manufacturer Nestle has been told that over the next six weeks, it must have five samples of its noodles tested by three accredited labs to prove the amount of lead is within permissible limits. If the tests are in Nestle's favour, it can start selling the noodles again.
More than 2,700 samples of Maggi noodles have been tested by laboratories in India and abroad in recent months, and each test confirmed the level of lead to be "far below permissible limits," Nestle said in a statement recently.
Tomorrow, the government's claim for Rs 640 crore or 99 million dollars in damages from Nestle will be heard by the country's top consumer forum in the first case in India that is being seen as a class-action suit against a multinational. The ruling of the quasi-judicial body will be legally binding.
In June, the country's food safety regulator banned Maggi after excessive amounts of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) were reported in samples tested in Uttar Pradesh.