Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday allowed Nestle India Ltd to export its Maggi noodles instead of incinerating the ready-to-cook snack, which the company has been forced to take off shop shelves and destroy after a ban imposed on the product by the food regulator.

The ruling came in response to an appeal filed by the Indian unit of the Swiss company against the ban, which was imposed following the detection of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and excess quantity of lead in some samples of the 2-minute noodles.

A bench of justices V.M. Kanade and B.P. Colabawala passed the order after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said it had no objection to Nestle selling the product abroad though it stood by its decision to ban nine variants of the snack in India.

Made-in-India Maggi noodles are imported by Singapore, Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. Australia has temporarily suspended imports. The US Food and Drug Administration is testing samples of Maggi, according to an 11 June Reuters report.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore on 8 June said Maggi noodles produced in India are safe to eat; food safety tests in that country found that the product does not pose a risk to consumers, according to a report by The Straits Times of Singapore.

The alleged detection of excess lead and MSG in the noodles prompted Nestle to undertake the largest recall in its history. About 30,000 tonnes of noodles were to be recalled from 3.5 million retail outlets, with 10,000 trucks transporting them for incineration, the company has said.

The company said on 26 June that it had so far destroyed about 30% of the noodles it was recalling

Nestle’s counsel Iqbal Chagla said that the ongoing recall process was a waste of food, adding that the company found the product to be safe.

Counsel for the Maharashtra government also took objection to the ongoing incineration of the noodles packs and said the company should be allowed to export them if it thought them safe. The court agreed.

Exports of Maggi are probably in the low single digits of overall revenue at Nestle India, which also exports coffee, ketchup and other products, said Abneesh Roy, associate director, institutional equities, research, at Edelweiss Securities Ltd.

Nestle did not say what its future course of action would be—whether it would continue to incinerate the noodles or try to export them.

“As the matter is sub-judice we cannot make any further comment on this case at this stage. We await the official order from the honorable high court," said a Nestle statement to the BSE.

On Monday, after the Maggi controversy, Indo Nissin Foods Pvt. Ltd announced withdrawal of its instant noodles brand Top Ramen from the Indian market on the orders of the food safety regulator.

Earlier in the month Hindustan Unilever Ltd also withdrew its Knorr Chinese range of instant noodles following an 8 June advisory by the FSSAI.

Nestle’s shares closed at 6,345.65 up 4.6%, on a day the BSE’s benchmark index closed at 27,780.83 points, up 0.49%.

The next hearing is on 14 July.

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