The Indian government is seeking $100 million (CHF98 million) in damages from Swiss multinational company Nestlé for misleading advertising related to its sale of Maggi brand noodles.
Officials at the consumer affairs department said they filed a complaint on Tuesday, alleging that the food giant had sold an unsafe product, through misleading advertising and had resorted to unfair trade practices.
The suit, which was filed on behalf of consumers, alleges that the company had made a misleading association between the noodles and people’s health. It said Nestlé had marketed some of its noodles as not containing monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which it says was false.
The noodles, which had been hugely popular in India, were banned in June for allegedly containing high levels of lead.
The controversy began after a regulator in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh said in May that it had found excessive levels of lead in the noodles.
Nestlé challenged findings by India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority in court and maintained that the product was safe for consumption but removed the noodles from store shelves throughout the country.
Tests carried out by food safety authorities in a number of countries, including Britain and Australia had concluded that the product was safe to consume.
On August 13, the Mumbai High Court revoked the nationwide ban on manufacture and sale of Maggi noodles it imposed on June 5 after deliberating on Nestlé’s appeal against the decision. The court gave the green light to restart sales provided new lab tests found the noodles acceptable. Nestlé has been given six weeks to submit the test reports.
swissinfo.ch and agencies