The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that Nestle India did not follow the legal procedure after the company was issued notice to explain the high levels of lead detected in samples of its Maggi noodles.
“The petitioners [Nestle] did not follow the procedure under the Act [Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006]. Food authorities cannot drag their feet in a matter of public health. There is a detailed mechanism in this Act which can solve the issue. There is a difficulty of foreign direct investment versus public health. The rule of law is the surest guarantee for both,” Darius J. Khambatta, counsel for the government and the State Food and Drug Administration, said.
Instead of following the procedure, the food manufacturer questioned the authority of the regulators and the government and the testing methods, Mr. Khambatta said.
“How can you condemn all the labs in India saying none is credible or does not meet your standards?” he asked.
Nestle had told the court earlier that 2,700 labs around the world had showed that Maggi noodles did not contain excess lead.
The court asked the government if there had been any “emergency” in banning the brand and why all its variants had been banned when only two of them were tested.
The government said 20 samples of two variants had been tested in Maharashtra, out of which five tested positive for lead in excess of the permissible limit. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which is the central authority, tested 72 samples of three variants and found that 30 of them contained high levels of lead.