India state files case against Nestle after finding high levels of lead in noodles

Food Safety and Drug Administration authorities in northern India's Uttar Pradesh have filed a criminal case against Nestle India after finding dangerous levels of lead in a batch of Maggi noodles, an official said on Sunday, May 31, 2015. -- SCREENG
Food Safety and Drug Administration authorities in northern India's Uttar Pradesh have filed a criminal case against Nestle India after finding dangerous levels of lead in a batch of Maggi noodles, an official said on Sunday, May 31, 2015. -- SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.MAGGI.IN

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The authorities in a north Indian state have filed a criminal case against Nestle India after finding dangerous levels of lead in a batch of Maggi noodles, an official said on Sunday.

The Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) in northern Uttar Pradesh state has said high lead levels were found during routine tests in two dozen packets of instant noodles, along with flavour enhancer MSG, in March.

The FDA earlier this month ordered the company to recall the batch from stores in the state.

Vijay Bahadur, the state's deputy food safety commissioner, said the case was lodged on Saturday in a local magistrate's court against Nestle India for using misleading packaging and manufacturing potentially harmful products.

"We have filed a case against Nestle India and the store owner for manufacturing and selling the harmful product," Mr Bahadur told AFP.

He said the company faced a fine and officials a possible jail term if the court went ahead with a hearing and found them guilty of breaching the national Food Safety and Standards Act.

Officials of Nestle India, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle, have been asked to appear before the court on July 1, he said.

Nestle India, which sells a vast number of products in India including two-minute noodles, has rejected the FDA's findings and has been conducting its own tests of the batch.

"We will share our results with authorities and continue to collaborate fully with them to bring this matter to a conclusion," the company said in a statement on Friday.

It said it did not use MSG or monosodium glutamate in its Maggi products sold in India.

The company could not be immediately contacted for comment over the latest case.

A lawyer has also lodged a case against three Bollywood actors, including megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who advertise Maggi noodles, claiming they were endorsing a harmful product and misleading the public.