Even as Nestle SA's Maggi instant noodles find their way back to store shelves in India, the country's food safety authority has challenged the lifting of a ban on the product. The ban took effect after the regulator said in May it had found higher-than-permissible levels of lead in the samples it tested.
Swiss company Nestle, the world's biggest maker of packaged foods, which has maintained that its Maggi noodles are safe, resumed manufacturing and sales earlier this month after three court-mandated tests of its products showed they were safe for consumption.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has appealed to the Supreme Court, the country's top court, challenging an order by a lower court that called for lifting the ban, the Hindu newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources at the regulator. That order was passed in August by the Bombay High Court in the federal state of Maharashtra, where Nestle had challenged the ban.
The FSSAI petition says the Bombay High Court erred by asking Nestle itself, rather than a neutral authority, to provide the fresh Maggi samples for testing at the government laboratories, the newspaper reported.
"We have filed the plea in the Supreme Court," Reuters cited Mansoor Khan, a lawyer for the food safety regulator, as saying.
However, Nestle's Mumbai-listed Indian unit said in a statement on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Tuesday, that the company has not received any information about the appeal.
"It has been brought to our attention that the Hon’ble Supreme Court website has posted that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has filed a case against Nestle India Ltd and Others," Nestle India said.
"We have not been served a notice about this and are not yet aware of its content. However, we would like to reiterate that Nestle India is confident of the quality and safety of MAGGI Noodles and so we will defend ourselves vigorously,” the company said in the statement.