The Supreme Court was told on Tuesday that one report of a test on Maggi noodles by the government research institute has shown that the lead content was within permissible limits but monosodium glutamate (MSG) was on the higher side.
Senior counsel Vibha Datta Makhija, appearing for the central government, told the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh that the reports by the Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute were directly sent to the apex court in a sealed cover but one of the reports seen by her had this conclusion.
In response, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for manufacturers Nestle India Ltd, told the court that that MSG occurs naturally in Maggi and was not an added flavour and added that government notification has accepted Nestle’s position that its presence could not be determined by any laboratory tests.
The court directed that the copies of the test report be given to all the parties appearing before the court in the matter within three days as it adjourned the hearing to July 19.
The apex court by its January 13, 2016 order, while perusing the tests reports by the institute, had asked it to tell it whether the results of the test report relating to lead and glutamic acid, were within permissible parameters or not.
The institute, the court had said, “shall also clarify whether the test relating to glutamic acid includes the test pertaining to monosodium glutamate”.
The CFTRI had conducted tests on Maggi samples in pursuance to the October 15 directions of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), and the December 16 direction of the apex court, modifying the NCDRC’s December 9-10 order asking a Chennai-based lab to test the samples.
Nestle India had moved the apex court challenging the NCDRC order, contending that once NCDRC had sent Maggi samples for testing by CFTRI by its October 15 order, then there was no necessity of further testing by the Chennai lab.
The central government had moved the apex court against August 13, 2015 Bombay High Court order which had held that the labs that tested Nestle’s Maggi noodles were not accredited by the NABL, thus their findings could not be relied upon.
Relying on the high court order, Nestle India has assailed the NCDRC order holding that if a laboratory in terms of section 2(1)(a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is recognised by the central or the state government or has been established under the law and maintained, financed or aided by the central or state government, then it need not necessarily be accredited by the NABL or notified by the Food Safety Standard Authority of India.
The government filed, before the NCDRC, a class action suit against Nestle India, seeking about Rs.640 crore in damages for alleged unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements.
The hearing on the suit is on hold in the wake of ongoing hearing by the apex court.