New Delhi: Widening its probe into alleged lapses of food safety standards in Maggi noodles, the government today said it is testing samples from all states and strict action will be taken for any violation, including against brand ambassadors of the famous brand of Nestle.
The tests are being done by the central food safety regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) and the reports are expected to come in the next 2-3 days.
A case has been lodged against Nestle India by UP food regulator FSDA in a local court at Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh over safety standards of its product Maggi, while actors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta were also separately dragged to court for promoting the 'two-minute' noodles brand.
"In case of Maggi, we have gathered information. UP Food department has investigated and they have found monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead. Now, FSSAI has taken up the issue. It will take the action," Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said here at a press conference organised to highlight the one-year achievements of the ministry.
Nestle has maintained that it does not agree with the UP food regulator's order and it "is filing the requisite representations with the authorities". Elaborating on the issue, Consumer Affairs Additional Secretary G Gurucharan said: "FSSAI has taken samples from every state. Testing is going on. Not only MSG and lead, all other parameters are being tested."
He said that some test reports were expected as early as today, and the rest could come in the next 2-3 days. "If any violations are found in the sample report, both FSSAI and the Consumer Affairs Department through NCDRC will take some class action," Gurucharan said.
On action to be taken against Maggi brand ambassadors, he said, "Yes, they would be liable for action if advertisements are found to be misleading."
While Amitabh Bachchan today said he no more endorses the brand, Madhuri Dixit recently met Nestle officials in this regard and said the company has assured her about the quality of the product.
"It becomes misleading advertisement if it is found that the product does not have the attributes that the manufacturer professed. And if brand ambassador has promoted that product and said specifically that the product has those attributes. They are also certainly liable for action," Gurucharan said. He further said that if misleading advertisement is established, there is a possibility of filing a class action suit through NCDRC against brand ambassadors.
Commenting on the controversy, Amitabh Bachchan told private news channel CNN-IBN that he does not endorse the brand anymore as "my contract is over." He further said he has checked with Nestle on the issue and "whether this is all right and if they are sure... I even put a clause in my contract where I said that I hope you people defend me, legally, if something happens."
Comments from Nestle India could not be obtained as mailed query to the company spokesperson remained unanswered. Earlier, Nestle India had however disputed the claim of the UP FSDA saying: "The company does not agree with the order and is filing the requisite representations with the authorities."
Paswan, however, said National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) under the Consumer Affairs Department has not received any complaints from consumers on the Maggi issue.
"Unless we do not get written complaint, we cannot take any action," the Minister added. Asked if retailers will be held responsible, Gurucharan said, "If retailers sell Maggi despite being aware of its sub-standard quality, they too will be liable for action.
However, the decisions will be taken by the consumer courts." There very few provisions and laws such as Cable and TV regulation Act, FSSAI Act, Consumer Protection Act -- which are effective to take action against selling sub-standard products and for misleading advertisements, he added.