This week, the government filed a suit with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, a consumer court with semi-judicial powers, for Rs6.4bn (US$99m) “on behalf of Indian consumers”.
It relates to findings by some state food authorities of excessive levels of lead and monosodium glutamate in its Maggi brand of noodles—an extremely popular snack in India.
Nestlé, which commands 80% of the country’s instant noodles market, had already destroyed thousands of tonnes of Maggi products, though it continues to deny the food safety allegations.
Countries including Singapore, Britain and the United States, say the noodles are safe for human consumption, as do some Indian state testing labs.
In response to the action, Nestlé India pointed out its “stringent” adherence to safety.
The company said in a statement: “In recent months, we had over 2,700 samples of Maggi noodles tested by several accredited laboratories both in India and abroad. Each one of these tests have shown lead to be far below the permissible limits.”
The company stressed that it does not add MSG to its noodles, though it is possible glutamic acid might have been introduced through ingredients in which it can occur naturally.
“We therefore strongly reiterate that the ‘No added MSG’ statement on the product was not an attempt to mislead consumers.”