MUMBAI: Maharashtra's Food and Drugs Administration today argued in the Bombay High Court that Nestle India had burnt several tonnes of Maggi after the state's ban order was imposed on this food snack, instead of going in for a re-test of the samples.
"If the company was so confident about safe features of its product, it should have come forward and requested us to go for a re-test of the samples or it could have offered other samples for a fresh examination," FDA counsel Darius Khambata submitted before justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawala. The court was hearing a petition filed by Nestle against FSSAI's June 5 order banning nine variants of Maggi, and Maharashtra government's order prohibiting their sale.
FDA selected at random 20 samples of Maggi for the test and five of them tested positive for containing lead beyond permissible limit. This was enough for FDA to issue notice to stop production and sale of all the 9 variants of Maggi, Khambata said. If the company suspected that the FDA reports were not correct then it could have made a grievance before the food regulator to send the samples to an accredited lab in Pune or Nagpur, instead of rushing to the high court to challenge the ban imposed on production and sale of the product, he argued.
"Instead, Nestle chose to send samples to labs in London, New York and Paris and placed 2700 test reports before us (FDA) to show that lead content was proper," he said. Justifying the ban, FDA counsel argued that after tests when FDA found lead content in Maggi to be beyond permissible limit, it issued an order banning the product. Moreover, FDA had sent lab test reports to Nestle but the company has not included these in the petition, thereby suppressing this fact from the high court, he said.
Both FSSAI and FDA have claimed that they had issued notices to Nestle India keeping in mind the health hazards the product may have had due to the high lead content. Nestle has argued that a particular batch may have contained lead beyond permissible limit but the blanket ban was "unfair and illegal".