The Indian government is suing food giant Nestle for $100 million over “unfair trade practices”, the BBC reports.
The complaint against Nestle is that it caused damage to consumers through misleading advertisements related to its Maggi noodles product.
Maggi noodles were banned in India after the food safety regulator accused Nestle of not complying with food safety laws.
The company has challenged this at the Bombay high court, saying its products are safe.
However, Nestle, which has 80% of India’s instant noodles market, has already destroyed 400 million tonnes of Maggi products.
A Nestle spokesman in Delhi told the Reuters news agency that the company would only be able to “provide substantive response” after it received an official notice about the complaint filed to the NCDRC.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had earlier said that tests deemed the instant noodles to contain “unsafe and hazardous” amounts of lead.
Nestle says that its noodles are safe as seen in the results of tests conducted in other countries, including the US, the UK and Singapore.
Two Indian laboratories in the western state of Goa and the southern city of Mysore also recently cleared the noodles, but the findings were dismissed by India’s food safety authority, saying there were lapses in the tests.
The Bombay high court verdict on the case is expected soon. It has reserved its order, but has suggested that samples of Maggi noodles be re-tested. Nestle has agreed, but the safety regulator has responded negatively.
“There is no provision for such a testing according to the law, we will not follow a different procedure because of Nestle,” the lawyer for the regulator told the Indian Express newspaper.
The news of legal action has caused a stir on Indian social media. The tag “Rs 634” – a reference to the amount of the damages the government is seeking (634 crore rupees which is 6.34 billion rupees) – has begun trending on Twitter.
Most have asked whether the large amount of compensation that has been sought on behalf of the consumers would be redistributed to everyone who ever ate Maggi.