In class suit, NCDRC seeks more tests on Maggi for Lead and MSG content
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has sought more tests on Maggi noodles in the class suit case filed by the consumer affairs department. In a hearing held earlier in December, the apex consumer rights body had sought the tests to be carried out at the Export Inspection Agency, Mumbai, while the next hearing would be scheduled on January 12.
In its direction, the commission stated that the samples would be tested and analysed for Lead and MSG content. The commission stated in its direction that the Export Inspection Agency within two weeks of receiving the said samples report the quantity if any of the Lead and MSG found in Maggi noodles and the tastemaker to it at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the test results of the earlier samples that were sent to the CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute) Lab in Mysore were yet to come and the matter has been listed for the next date by which the same was likely to come.
The government had earlier sought fresh tests on Maggi samples in a government prescribed lab. The department of consumer affairs, in an application, was seeking testing of 50 samples of Maggi noodles out of a large number of packets seized by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to an appropriate laboratory.
Nestle opposed the move during the hearing. According to sources, Nestle’s counsel stated that though the company does not add any MSG to Maggi noodles, the regulations do permit its addition in various foods and in the seasoning for instant noodles and therefore, testing for MSG will be a futile exercise.
It was also claimed, during the hearing by Nestle, that though it was possible to test the presence of glutamic acid and glutamates, it was not possible to distinguish, through analysis, whether glutamate was in free form or bound with sodium or other salt, and since glutamic acid and salts of glutamate were naturally present in the foods, the testing for the presence of glutamate irrespective of whether it was in free or in bound form and other salts of glutamic acid, would be a futile exercise because the result would always show positive for the presence of glutamate.
Further it was argued that CFTRI had already tested the product sent for testing by FDA, Goa, and found it compliant and therefore the request for further testing appeared to be a fishing experiment, in an attempt to give life to a case which could not stand. Further argued by Nestle’s counsel that in terms of direction of Bombay High Court, 90 samples were collected covering six different available variants and were sent to independent accredited laboratories notified by FSSAI for testing of the Lead parameter. Also a similar request for sending samples in possession of the authority has already been rejected by the Bombay High Court.
But the commission in its observation stated, “In our opinion, it would only be appropriate that the samples in terms of this order are examined by a government laboratory. We therefore, direct the samples sealed and authenticated in terms of this order to be tested and analysed by Export Inspection Agency, Mumbai, at E-3, MIDC area, Marol, Andheri (E), Mumbai-400093.”