India decided to sue Swiss company Nestlé over a series of business practices government officials believe risked the health of citizens. An Indian official told the BBC that the nation is seeking $100 million in damages over Maggi noodles. The story was first reported by the Times of India.
India’s consumer affairs department filed a complaint against Nestlé through the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on Tuesday. G. Gurcharan, an additional secretary at the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, told the AFP that one major complaint involves “unfair trade practices.”
Specifically, India believes that the Swiss company knowingly misled customers about the safety of its noodles. In April, Maggi noodles were subjected to a lab test that found higher traces of lead in the food product that is legally allowed in India. Lead in foods is a matter of grave concern. Too much of the substance in the body can cause a potentially fatal reaction known as lead poisoning.
— AJE News (@AJENews) August 13, 2015
Indian officials believe that the deception by Nestlé runs deeper than lead levels. Allegedly, the company claimed certain noodles lacked MSG, which further testing determined to be false. The Indian government also believes that Nestlé misrepresented the healthiness of their noodles to customers, implying things that weren’t true. Officials point to the “health is enjoyable” slogan used by Nestlé.
Maggi noodles were banned in India. Nestlé disputed the claims behind the ban, but cooperated by removing their products from stores. Interestingly, several Western nations and a government-approved study in India all agree that the noodles are safe for human consumption. Indian officials are currently disputing the validity of those claims.
— Firstpost (@firstpost) August 13, 2015
It’s noted that Nestlé is a giant in the country’s instant noodle industry. Eighty percent of instant noodles sold in India are made by Nestlé. As of June, approximately 400 million tons of Maggi noodles have been destroyed across India.
Though India’s move to sue Nestlé has made international news, in a statement, the brand denied receiving any official notification about a lawsuit.
“Our current knowledge on this issue is only [based on] media reports… We shall be able to provide [a more] substantive response after we receive the official papers.”
A decision by the Bombay high court is expected soon. The court has strongly suggested that the Maggi noodles be re-tested ahead of any ruling. Although Nestlé immediately agreed to cooperate, the safety regulator is not interested.
A lawyer for the regulator told the Indian Express, “There is no provision for such a testing according to the law. We will not follow a different procedure because of Nestlé.”