Court slaps Nestle India with fine over substandard noodles

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FILE PHOTO: Packets of Nestle’s Maggi instant noodles are seen on display at a grocery store in Mumbai, India, June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File photo

NEW DELHI – A court on Tuesday imposed a fine of 4.5 million rupees ($70,000) on Nestle India in a 2015 case for selling substandard instant noodles after a laboratory test found high ash content in its popular Maggi brand.

The court also slapped a 2.6 million rupee fine on the distributors of Nestle India, a unit of packaged food giant Nestle SA, said Ranjan Singh, a legal officer at the Shahjahanpur district court in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.

The case against the Swiss food firm’s India unit is one of several filed by regulators after they found excess lead, ash, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavour enhancer, in different samples of Maggi noodles seized in Uttar Pradesh between 2015 and 2016.

A spokesman for Nestle India said the company will appeal against the order.

“This appears to be a case of application of incorrect standards, and we will file an appeal urgently once we receive the order,” said the spokesman, who did not wish to be named citing company policy.

Maggi, Nestle India’s single-largest revenue earner, was banned in June 2015 for six months across India on allegations that it contained chemicals beyond prescribed limits.

The company had to recall 38,000 tonnes of Maggi noodles from millions of retail shelves and destroy them. The ban was relaxed in November 2015.