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Maggi row: In a first, Centre moves National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

June,3,2015: Section 12-1-D of the Consumer Protection Act deals with the manner in which a complaint can be made before NCDRC.

NCDRC
NCDRC

In further troubles for Nestle over Maggi issue, the government has filed a complaint on its own with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) — using a provision for the first time from the nearly three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act.

Describing the alleged lapses related to food safety standards in Maggi noodles as a “serious issue”, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also said that the NCDRC will investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

“We cannot say at this point of time, what exact action NCDRC will take,” he added.

Mr. Paswan also said that rising fast food consumption may have health risk.

“In cities like Mumbai, 25 per cent of people do not eat at home. With rise in consumption of fast food items, there is also risk of health. Maggi is eaten maximum by children (sic),” he added.

Usually, NCDRC comes into play following complaints filed by a consumer, but a section of this Act of 1986 also provides for the government to register a complaint.

“For the first time, we are taking action under Section 12-1-D of the Consumer Protection Act, under which both Centre and states have powers to file complaints,” Mr. Paswan said.

This particular section deals with the manner in which a complaint can be made before NCDRC.

It states that “a complaint in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided may be filed by … the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of the consumers in general.”

While the government has already asked central food safety regulator FSSAI to look into the matter, it had earlier said that NCDRC would look into this issue if a complaint is filed.

“Since there would be delay in getting FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) reports and since it is concerned about consumers, we decided to file a written complaint before NCDRC in the interest of consumers,” Mr. Paswan told reporters in New Delhi.

FSSAI, which comes under the Health Ministry, has taken samples of Maggi noodles from all states for testing.

The Minister said the FSSAI Act provides for a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh and imprisonment of up to 6 years in case of grievous injury to the consumer, while the imprisonment could be of minimum 7 years and fine of not less than Rs. 10 lakh in case of death.

“I don’t know what will be the outcome of the (FSSAI) reports. If FSSAI reports are found to be positive, it is a very serious issue,” the minister said.

Asked if his Ministry will ask states to ban Maggi, he said: “I cannot ask states to ban. It is a state issue. If states are banning, what can I do?”

On action against brand ambassadors, he said, “It is not about individual. It is about unfair trade practice that is selling substandard products and making false claims in advertisements and misleading consumers.”

» In April, the food regulator of Uttar Pradesh, UP FDA had ordered recall of a batch of about 2 lakh packs of the Maggi instant noodles due to higher than permitted levels of lead and food additives.
» After Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra governments too have sent samples of Maggi to the laboratory for food safety tests.
» On May 29, taking a “serious” note of quality issues related to global giant Nestle’s famous noodle brand Maggi, the government asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to look into the matter. The FSSAI has collected more samples of Maggi from different states for testing.
» Meanwhile, Hindi actors Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta, who endorse Maggi were served legal notice on the claims made in the advertisement. A complaint was filed in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Barabanki, on May 30, by lawyer Santosh Kumar Singh, saying that by endorsing Maggi the film stars have misled people. The Consumer Affairs Ministry Additional Secretary G Gurucharan says "brand ambassadors would be liable for action if advertisements are found to be misleading.”
» On May 30, Madhuri Dixit tweeted that she met officials of Nestle and the company has reassured that "they adhere to stringent testing for quality and safety and are working with the authorities closely.”
» The same day, the Food Safety and Drug Administration of the U.P. government filed a case against the manufacturing company, Nestle India Ltd., and five others, including the Barabanki store from where samples with excess lead were seized.
» The Uttarakhand Food Safety Department too collected samples of the noodle brand from the company’s plant at Pantnagar in the State.
» Nestle India said it has got tested samples of the noodle brand in an external laboratory as well as in-house and the product has been found “safe to eat” with lead levels within the permissible levels for consumption. The company was, however, silent on presence of the taste enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG).
» Nestle India's stocks slumped over 10 per cent on Wednesday amid growing concerns about safety standards of its popular Maggi noodles. In a BSE filing, the company said it has not received any order from the central or any state FDA authority for recall of its Maggi noodles.
» State-owned retail outlets in Kerala and Delhi have banned the sale of Maggi. Leading retail chain Big Bazaar has also reportedly taken them off from its shelves.
» Army has issued advisory to its personnel asking them not to eat Maggi noodles and directed its canteens not to sell them till further orders.

 

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