Maggi_masala_noodlesThe Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has in a press release informed that it has filed a complaint under section 12(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) against ‘Nestle India Ltd.’

The Department has filed the case claiming that Nestle is liable to pay a sum of Rs. 284.55 crores (Rs 2,845.50 million) and punitive damages amounting to Rs. 355.40 crores (Rs 3,554.07 million) on account of the gross negligence, apathy and callousness on its part. Thus a total amount of of Rs. 639. 96 crores (Rs 6,399.57 million) has been demanded from Nestle.

The Department says that it has filed this class action suit on behalf of the large number of consumers of Maggi in the country on grounds of unfair trade practices, sale of defective goods and sale of Maggi Oats Noodles to the public without product approval. As per TOI, after discussing it for weeks, consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan had cleared the proposal to file the case on 10 August 2015.

Section 12 (1) (d) of the Act provides:

12. Manner in which complaint shall be made:

(d) the Central or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of the consumers in general.


Case

It appears from the case status (to be verified) that the complaint was filed on 11 August and is scheduled for listing on 14 August.

Case No.  Consumer Complaint No. 870 of 2015
Case Title Union of India v. Nestle India Limited
Date of filing 11 August 2015

As per media reports, Nestle India has stated that as of today (12 August 2015), it was yet to receive an official notice about the complaint filed before the NCDRC and that its current knowledge on the issue was only based on media reports. The company said it will be able to provide substantive response after receiving the official papers.


The controversy

Earlier this year, after certain complaints, the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had advised Commissioners of Food Safety in various states to draw samples and get the same tested from authorized laboratories. FSSAI claims that the analysis of the reports received, and the record of the case, revealed the following three violations in the product:
  1. Presence of lead in excess of the permissible level of 2.5 ppm,
  2. Misleading label of “No added MSG”and
  3. Release of “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” without risk assessment and grant of product approval.
On 5 June 2015, FSSAI passed the following order against Nestle India Ltd:
  1. Withdraw and recall all the 9 approved variants of Maggi Instant Noodle from the market; and stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale thereof.
  2. Comply with the labeling regulations and remove the label of “No added MSG”.
  3. Withdraw and recall the food product “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker” and any other product for which risk assessment has not been undertaken and product approval granted.
  4. Take appropriate action to re-ascertain the safety of its products in compliance of the obligation contained in Section 26 of the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006.
Nestle India then decided to take Maggi off the shelves across India but claimed that its product were safe.In a press release, it said:
Nestlé India reconfirms that MAGGI Noodles in India are safe. In spite of that, Nestlé India has decided to take the product off the shelves nationwide in view of recent developments and concerns around the product, which has led to an environment of confusion for the consumer. This, Nestlé believes, does not provide a conducive environment to have the product in the market, at this moment.
Nestle had then challenged the ban before the Bombay High Court, which is assumed to pronounce the final orders tomorrow.

 

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