New Delhi: Nestle India Ltd on Wednesday told the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) that the government was biased and has “singled out" the Swiss food maker by banning popular snack Maggi instant noodles while no action was being taken against manufacturers of similar products.

A bench, headed by justice V.K. Jain, issued notice to the government on Nestle India’s plea and sought its response by 8 October. It also issued a notice to Nestle India on a separate plea filed by the government seeking further testing of Maggi noodles.

Citing an order by the Bombay high court that had set aside the nationwide ban on Maggi noodles, Nestle India also sought to recall an earlier order of NCDRC admitting the suit filed by the department of consumer affairs (DCA) seeking 640 crore in damages against Nestle India for alleged unfair trade practices and other charges.

“Nestle India, in response to the complaint filed with the NCDRC, has raised concerns over the maintainability of the complaint. This is based on the fact that the complaint makes allegations similar to those leading to the ban of the product on 5 June 2015, which was quashed by the Bombay high court on 13 August 2015," said a Nestle India spokesperson.

The Bombay high court had set aside the food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) nationwide ban order on the sale of Maggi noodles and said it had not been able to “substantiate" its “tall claim" of the food product being unsafe, and told the manufacturer that it will be allowed to resume production and sales once the popular two-minute snack is re-tested and cleared for consumption by government-approved laboratories.

The court also slammed FSSAI for “lack of transparency" and passing orders in an “arbitrary manner".

NCDRC had issued a notice to Nestle India on 17 August on the government’s suit and the company had to reply on Wednesday. The suit was filed in public interest on 11 August alleging unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements for Maggi instant noodles by Nestle India. The damages sought are for the manufacturing and sale of Maggi Noodles that contained lead and Monosodium glutamate (MSG) in excess of permitted levels, which allegedly harmed consumers.

“We have already done over 3,500 tests of Maggi Noodles in independent as well as in our own accredited laboratories. All the test results showed that Maggi noodles are safe to eat. Food standards authorities in United States of America, United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have found Maggi Noodles manufactured by Nestle India to be safe after enquires made there," said the Nestle India spokesperson.

“Nestle India is fully committed to working with all stakeholders to get Maggi Noodles back on the shelves. The trust of our consumers and the safety of our products are our utmost priority."

Nestle India has opposed the government’s suit saying that due to the ban, about 9,000 vendors and 10,000 suppliers were rendered unemployed and it has suffered a loss of about 250 crore. “It has caused a huge damage to our reputation... To the extent that my competitors are making fun of me (company). While my product has been banned, government is not taking any action against any manufacturer of similar products... I’m being singled out," said senior advocate Arvind Nigam, who represented Nestle India at NCDRC. In reply to NCDRC notice, Nestle India said that it has not received complete documents from the government to which it had to file its reply.

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