Maggi ban: Nestle claims it is being 'singled out'

New Delhi: Alleging bias, Nestle India Limited on Wednesday told the apex consumer commission that it was being 'singled out' by the government in the Maggi noodles ban case as no action was being taken against other manufacturers of similar products.

Citing Bombay High Court order which had set aside the countrywide ban on Maggi, the company also sought to recall an earlier order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) by which it had admitted government's Rs 640 crore suit against the noodles manufacturer for alleged unfair trade practices and other charges.

A bench, headed by Justice V K Jain, issued notice to the government on the company's plea and sought response by October 8. It also issued notice to Nestle on a separate plea filed by the government seeking further testing of Maggi noodles.

The company opposed the government's suit saying that due to the ban, around 9,000 vendors and 10,000 suppliers were rendered unemployed and it has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 250 crore.

"It has caused a huge damage to our reputation... to the extent that my competitors are making fun of me (company). While my product has been banned, government is not taking any action against any manufacturer of similar products... I am being singled out," senior advocate Arvind Nigam said on behalf of the company.

On August 17, NCDRC had issued notice to Nestle on the government's suit to which the company had to reply today. However, the company failed to reply to the notice claiming that it has not received complete documents from the government to which it had to filed its reply.

The commission has now asked Nestle to respond to Rs 640 crore suit by the next date of hearing on October 8. In its petition, Department of Consumer Affairs has said that Nestle India had "indulged in unfair trade practices by false labelling of Maggi Noodles in as much as it states 'No added MSG' prominently on packet, despite presence of MSG."

The department has also alleged that the company sold 'defective' goods to the public by selling Maggi noodles with the presence of Lead and MSG and indulged in unfair trade practices by offering for sale Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker without risk assessment and product approval.

It also sought a direction to the company to recall all the 'defective' and 'hazardous goods' with respect to Maggi noodles with Tastemaker in all its variants and Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker and also sought a direction to it for issuance of corrective advertisement to neutralize the effect of the misleading advertisements.

"This commission be pleased to direct the opponent company to remove 'No added MSG' from the packets and labels of all the variants of Maggi noodles.... This commission be pleased to direct the opponent company to ensure strict compliance with labelling regulations for its entire range of products," the department's complaint filed before the commission said.

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