Nestle India on Wednesday sought permission from the Supreme Court to destroy about 550 tonnes of Maggi Noodles, the stock which was recalled from the markets last year after allegations that it contained lead beyond the permissible limit. Nestle said in its plea that the stock was past its shelf life and its storage may lead to health hazards at the 39 locations where it is stored across the country.
The court has agreed to hear the plea today after it was mentioned by senior advocate Harish Salve saying the food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was not opposed to the company's petition.
Salve said that FSSAI and the company have both agreed to destroy the stock which has passed its shelf life.
The company said that pursuant to withdrawal announcement and ban order on 5 June 2015, Nestle India Ltd had recalled stocks of Maggi Noodles and till 1 September 2015 destroyed around 38,000 tonnes of Maggi Noodles.
The firm said it had 490 tonnes of stock pending destruction and 60 tonnes was received from the market. Hence, 550 tonnes of stock stored in 39 locations across the country needed to be destroyed.
"This entire stock of approximately 550 tonnes is well past its 'best before date' and its storage is giving rise to conditions that may lead to health hazard at the said locations," the plea said.
It said over 38,000 tonnes of Maggi Noodles have been destroyed till 1 September 2015 at incinerators of the notified cement plants, keeping in view environmental requirements.
The company said the destruction was done by following a procedure agreed between it and food regulator FSSAI. The agreed procedure included withdrawn or recalled stock to be transported from its locations in closed or covered vehicles for destruction at the designated locations.
Some other procedures agreed included destruction in the incinerators of cement plants identified by FSSAI and its intimation to FSSAI, which if required may depute officials at these sites.
On 5 April a Mysore-based government laboratory had given its test report on Maggi noodles in a sealed cover to the apex court.
On 13 January the apex court had asked the Mysore lab to clarify whether test reports relating to lead and glutamic acid in Maggi noodles were within permissible parameters under the law.
The apex court had passed the order after perusing two communications received from this lab which had carried out the test on monosodium glutamate (MSG) content in the samples.
While Nestle India had claimed that the lead content was within permissible limits prescribed under the Food Safety Act, the Centre said there was a need for comprehensive findings of all other parameters.
The Supreme Court had on 16 December last year ordered testing of samples of Maggi noodles in Mysore laboratory after the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had directed that it be done in Chennai.
The apex consumer commission had on 10 December 2015, sent 16 more samples of Maggi noodles for testing at Chennai to ascertain the quantity of lead and MSG in them in connection with the government's Rs640 crore suit against the company for alleged unfair trade practices.
The Supreme Court had passed the December order after noting that both the Centre and Nestle India had agreed that Mysore lab was well equipped with all tests.
The court had also stayed the proceedings before the NCDRC and directed that the test reports be placed before it.
The Bombay High Court had on 13 August last year lifted the ban on nine variants of the fast food and asked the company to go for fresh tests.